12 January - 20 June 2016

Is it possible to produce a low-fat ice cream which is acceptable to consumers?

Reformulating ice cream, which is a complex food matrix, can be challenging as changing just one ingredient can affect the physical and sensory characteristics important to consumers. Fat, as well as providing a characteristic sensory qualities, also play a key role as a structural agent, affecting hydrophobic flavour molecules.

Reformulating ice cream, which is a complex food matrix, can be challenging as changing just one ingredient can affect the physical and sensory characteristics important to consumers.  Fat, as well as providing a characteristic sensory qualities, also play a key role as a structural agent, affecting hydrophobic flavour molecules. 

To eliminate calories from food, fat reduction is key, as fat provides more energy per gram than other macronutrients.  A study published in the Journal of Dairy Science has investigated the effect of reducing fat by using maltodextrin, a polysaccharide, on selected physical properties and on consumer acceptability. Maltodextrin, a bulking agent, was added to compensate for the loss of fat.

Roberts et al. formulated ice cream using various amounts of milk fat content and maltodextrin (6% fat, 8% maltodextrin; 8% fat, 6% maltodextrin; 10% fat, 4% maltodextrin; 12% fat, 2% maltodextrin; 14% fat, 0% maltodextrin).  The team analysed the physical characterisation of the products, including particle size, hardness, texture, melting rate and weight amongst others.

Robert et al. recruited untrained participants who were classified as regular ice cream consumers, consuming vanilla ice cream at least once a month.  The participants were asked to rate the ice cream on a degree of likeness, as well as rate several attributes including sweetness, vanilla flavour, creaminess, smoothness, mouth coating, hardness and melt rate.  They also carried out triangle tests, which consisted of 2 samples of ice cream with the same fat level and 1 with a different level to investigate if the participants could identify the different sample.  In the first session, the discrimination triangle test used products that differentiated in fat content by 2% points, and in session 2 the same test was used but used products that differentiated in fat content by 5% points.  A hundred participants completed each session. During storage, ice crystals can increase in size, which affects the quality of the ice cream. Because of this effect, the researchers also studied stored samples after 19 weeks of storage at -19oC. 

The team report that “density and kinematic viscosity decreased with an increase in fat content, a finding that can be explained by the higher maltodextrin content in the reduced-fat ice cream samples.”  As expected mix particle size increased with fat content.  The fat content of the ice cream was found to not significantly affect hardness.  The authors state that consumer acceptability testing found that “overall liking did not significantly change with the reduction in fat content from 14% to 6%”.  Rating of vanilla flavour, and hardness did not differ significantly across the fat levels studied.  However ratings of creaminess and smoothness were significantly different, with the ice cream with 14% fat and no Maltodextrin being “significantly less smooth than the other treatments, and significantly less creamy than the ice cream with 10% fat and 4% maltodextrin.”  Participants were unable to detect a difference in the 2% point in fat levels between 6% and 12% fat, although they were able to tell the difference between ice creams with 6% vs 10% but not 8% vs 12% fat. 

The authors report that their findings therefore indicate that “the use of maltodextrin as a bulking agent may be a feasible for reducing the energy density of vanilla ice cream.”

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in developing a wide range of food and drink products at a laboratory and pilot scale.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Understanding the physical and microstructural properties of raw materials and food products is crucial to the delivery of high quality and stable products. RSSL offers a broad range of techniques and in-depth expertise when it comes to the physical characterisation of raw materials and finished food products. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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