As consumer groups in Europe and the US call on food manufacturers to cut the quantity of trans fats in food products, Swedish vegetable oils supplier Karlshamns has come up with a cocoa butter replacer with a low trans fatty acid content.
Concerns over the consumption of trans fatty acids are linked to the possible association between trans fat and an increase in the blood LDL cholesterol - the 'bad' cholesterol - one risk factor for cardiovascular heart disease.
Trans fats are unsaturated fatty acids formed when vegetable oils are processed and made more solid or into a more stable liquid. This processing is called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated oils are used in processed foods because they help food products stay fresh longer and have a more desirable texture. But European and US governments and consumer groups are keen to see a reduction in the trans fat levels - in a bid to improve the overall health of their overweight populations.
Earlier this week Mark McClellan, Commissioner of the US Food and Drink Administration said that the FDA is making plans to expand food labelling to include such details as trans fats in an effort to counter obesity.
As a reflection of the market's increasing demand for lower trans fats levels ingredients suppliers are busy formulating alternatives.
Karlshamns new cocoa butter replacers (CBR) have a trans fatty acids content of only 15 per cent. According to the company, the new products - Akopol LT15 S and Akopol LT15 E - complement its current CBR range, with improved sensory properties and the same functional advantages as the traditional type of CBR.