How to tackle the UK “calorie reduction challenge” with Steam Infusion

On the 18th August 2017, the UK government announced a new focus on total calorie reduction in its battle against childhood obesity. The plan challenges food manufacturers to reduce the calorie content in ready-meals and such foods that children (and adults) consume on a daily basis, but how will this be achieved?

With one in three children now leaving primary school classed as obese (Public Health England), it’s no surprise that the UK government is taking action. Initially, the calorie reduction plan is a voluntary programme, however, if not addressed then obligatory regulations and targets will be set which could force manufacturers to either reduce portion and product sizes or reformulate recipes accordingly. In the UK, reformulation has become commonplace in response to prior government schemes covering salt reduction and sugar quotas. 

But how far can you reformulate?

For salt, sugar and fat reduction, typically there are the “low hanging fruit” ingredient reductions or substitutions which have minimal impact on product quality, taste and texture. It’s also a relatively quick and easy process with minimal impact on a food business. But, as these targets continue to fall, it becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy consumers’ demands. Ingredient substitution is another option yet quality can be hindered and consumers are also aware that some of the substitutes have their own separate issues, for example, diet drinks containing the sugar substitute aspartame.

Can Steam Infusion cooking help?

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Changing your process is another option, and although it’s a medium to long-term approach, technology reformulation can open up new NPD areas and offer uniqueness in the market place.

One of the key findings uncovered in our Innovate UK, a government-funded research project between OAL and the University of Lincoln at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, showed that Steam Infusion cooking enables fat reductions of up to 20% in dairy based sauces.

The high-speed cooking operating conditions within the Steam Infusion Vaction™ Unit gives food processors a new tool to tackle NPD challenges with. For fat reduction, the process creates a fat mimetic allowing you to substitute out high-fat ingredients with no flavour or textural changes. On the traffic light scheme, this could see your carbonara, lasagne, cauliflower cheese or creamy desserts comply with regulations and achieve a favourable amber or green over a red traffic light result.

Want to learn more about how Steam Infusion works?

We’ve published a white paper on reducing the fat in dairy-based sauces that explains how the process works and its impact on other products.

Or, come and see it for yourself at one of our Steam Infusion Cooking Classes which take place at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing with our Development Chef. To find out more and to register for a class, click below. Places are limited to ensure that attendees get as much out of the day as possible.

Blog, NewsJake NormanComment