Foodservice company Van den Bergh Foods has received a US patent for a process for preparing a fat continuous spread. The patent, #6,322,843, has about 30 per cent to 80 per cent fat and has a trans fatty acid level of less than about 10 per cent. The fat phase and an aqueous phase are combined to form an emulsion which is crystallised to form substantially beta prime crystals in the C-unit.
According to the patent, consumer trends have indicated that spread products which spread easily, have a good melting behaviour in both the mouth and on heated food items, contain a relatively high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids and at the same time have a relatively low trans fatty acid level. Butter generally has a trans fatty acid content of about 7 per cent to 8 per cent.
The patent adds that the higher the level of trans fatty acid in the fat phase of a spread, the shorter the residence time needed during processing to crystallise the fat to form the desirable characteristics of the spread.
As the trans fatty acid content is reduced, residence times must be increased in order to avoid post crystallisation of the fat during storage which leads to brittle and unspreadable products.
The patent claims that there is a need for a process to prepare a spread having less than 80 per cent fat and less than 10 per cent trans fatty acid levels, which has acceptable consumer properties such as good spreading and good organoleptic characteristics.