In recent years food manufacturers have faced the challenges of food reformulation to meet rising demands for reduction in fat, salt and sugar content without compromising the taste, texture and flavour of final products.
The solution to this problem may be from carefully designed and controlled food manufacturing processes. This is enabled by the use of mathematical models that explain the crucial physico-chemical changes in food. Researchers from the USA and Thailand have formulated a model for fluid and energy transfer during frying of rice crackers to help manufacturers optimize the frying process and to reduce fat content in their products. They described frying as a complex chemical process that can be monitored by the use of more than 100 equations describing different physical changes in the food structure and chemical reactions that occur simultaneously.
The model proposed by Harkirat Bansal and colleagues, in the journal Food Research International, suggests that in order to reduce the oil uptake by a cracker during frying the following need to be better controlled: moisture content and hydration characteristic of rice polymers, water evaporation rates during frying, pressure within the pore spaces inside food, pressure distribution inside food at different times of frying. Controlling these parameters may lead to a decrease in the amount of oil that is sucked into the food by capillary action and a lower fat content in the final product. More details of this study are published in the latest Food Research International journal.