The concept of replacing fat with a low-calorie fat entered the scene in the early 1990s. By that time, the likelihood of obtaining FDA approval for the use of olestra within a short time-scale was dwindling rapidly, and, on the other hand, it was recognized that the commercially available fat mimetics did not provide an easy answer to fat replacement, and, moreover, their use was restricted, in general, to water-based food systems. In this context, the idea of using the basic structure of a triglyceride molecule, but changing the composition of the fatty acids esterified with the glycerol backbone in order to achieve caloric reduction appeared to be very plausible. Moreover, the fact that medium-chain triglycerides, which usually comprise caprylic (C8) and capric (C10) fatty acids, are GRAS ingredients with a 35-year track record in clinical medicine (e.g., for treating patients suffering from lipid malabsorption symptoms or for use in infant formulae) was a distinct advantage (Latta, 1990; Megremis, 1991). These compounds provide energy (8.3 kcal/g) but are metabolized through the liver, and are characterized by a low tendency for becoming incorporated into tissue as depot fat. Currently, medium-chain triglycerides are marketed by the U.S. company Karlshamns Food Ingredients (Captex 300, 350 and 355, now known as AKomed range) and by Stepan Company (Neobee® M-5). However, as pointed out by Thayer (1992), there are certain limitations to the use of medium-chain triglycerides in foods since, upon hydrolysis, the free fatty acids released give strong off-flavors.
The concept of using medium-chain triglycerides together with long-chain fatty acids (e.g., behenic acid — C22) was developed jointly by Procter & Gamble and Grinsted Products, Inc. and commercialized under the name Caprenin. The incorporation of behenic acid (which is only partially absorbed in the gut), together with caprylic and capric acids, gives further caloric reduction, and the net result is that Caprenin provides only 5 kcal/g (Peters et al., 1991; Webb and Sanders, 1991). More information on Caprenin is given in Chapter 13. Caprenin has been used commercially as a substitute for cocoa butter in the product Milky Way II produced by M & M Mars (introduced into a test market area in the U.S. in March 1992), and (in September 1992) in Hershey's Reduced Calorie and Fat Candy Bar. In both cases, the Caprenin was used in conjunction with polydextrose to achieve a 25% reduction in caloric value compared with the standard product. However, since then, there seems to have been no apparent progress in the use of Caprenin as a fat replacer.
The most recent addition to the low-calorie fat category is Salatrim, developed by Nabisco Foods Group in conjunction with Pfizer Food Science, and launched in July 1994. Salatrim is a family of triglycerides comprising mixtures of long-chain fatty acids (predominantly stearic acid) and short-chain fatty acids (mainly acetic acid, propionic acid, and/or butyric acid) esterified with glycerol. As a result of this chemical structure, the caloric value of Salatrim is 5 kcal/g (Smith et al., 1994). It is not expected that the commercial availability of Salatrim will be hindered by the FDA approval process since it is made from natural substances commonly used in foods and produced by an established interesterification process (petition filed with the FDA in mid-1994). No toxic effects were observed in animal studies of up to 13 weeks duration and in clinical studies, Salatrim was found to be well tolerated in doses of up to 30 g/d (Smith et al., 1994). At the time of writing, Nabisco was hoping to launch chocolate bars containing Salatrim by mid-1995, and Pfizer Food Science was planning subsequently to launch ice cream, cheeses, baked goods and table spreads made from Salatrim. However, the incorporation of Salatrim into frying oils has not been suggested (see Chapter 13). The future will show whether low-calorie fats will be seen as a commercially viable option for the food industry.
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