Fat Replacement System from Natural Plant Materials for Improving Food Nutrition, Quality, and Reducing Costs

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

River Falls, WI 54022
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Obesity is a growing epidemic that threatens the health of both adults and children. The problem is exacerbated by challenging economic times and increasing food costs that put pressure on consumers to purchase lower priced meals, which may be of inferior nutritional value and/or contain excessive proportions of animal fat. Whereas many ingredients can lower fat and calorie contents of foods, their use is limited because, compared with full-fat, full-calorie alternatives (i) they are of limited nutritional value; (ii) their eating properties are inferior, and (iii) they cost more. Therefore, there is an urgent need for fat replacement food ingredients that are (i) more nutritious; (ii) have improved eating properties; and (iii) cost less. Fiberstar Bio & #39;s platform technology extracts fibers from surplus natural plant materials in an innovative method that allows the fibrous material to rehydrate readily, a unique property that is key to replacing the favorable eating properties conferred by fats. The innovative technology was used in developing the Citri-Fi & reg; line of food ingredients, introduced in 2004. Citri-Fi is a line of unique, multi-functional fibers derived from orange pulp. Citri-Fi tightly binds moisture to improve quality and yields; partially replacing oil, fat, eggs and meat to reduce costs; and replacing less label-friendly ingredients to improve label declarations. However, Citri-Fi & reg; requires orange pulp (the material left over from orange juice manufacture) as its input raw material, and the continued use of Citri-Fi & reg; is quickly exhausting the available supply of orange pulp. Moreover, only ~50% of fat can be replaced by Citri-Fi & reg;--above this level, eating properties of several foods is diminished. In this SBIR Phase I project, we successfully tested alternative sources of raw material, and modified the manufacturing process at laboratory scale, in order to begin to address the raw material supply challenge we are facing with Citri-Fi & reg;, and to determine whether alternatives may be able to replace more than 50% of the fats normally present in popular foods. We identified several promising alternative fibrous raw materials (sugar beet pulp, citrus peel, inner segment membranes from citrus fruit, and potato fiber), and in this SBIR Phase II application, we now propose to identify an optimum raw material and process for a new fat substitute. Briefly, we propose (i) to expand processes developed in Phase I from laboratory to pilot plant scale; (ii) to test whether the products made at pilot scale match the properties of the same products made at lab scale; (iii) to incorporate the products into several different foods and perform compositional, stability, and functionality testing to assess their performance in end products; (iv) to carry out preliminary process engineering work and develop economic models; (v) to rank the raw materials for their commercial potential; (vi) to confirm the raw material & #39;s long-term availability; then, based on these prior steps, (vii) select the one best raw material for subsequent steps to prepare for commercialization; (viii) carry out testing and prepare documents to ensure the material meets the criteria for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status; (ix) prepare documentation for customer usage; and (x) send samples of the new fat substitute to selected customers and elicit their feedback.