Scientists Develop Method For Adding Omega-3s To Foods

June 10, 2013

2 Min Read
Scientists Develop Method For Adding Omega-3s To Foods

MUNICH, GermanyFraunhofer researchers have developed a new method for adding omega-3 fatty acids to a variety of popular foods, leading to the launch of its new omega-3 sausage.

Fraunhofer launched the omega-3 sausage in conjunction with German food retailer EDEKA. The sausage is produced in EDEKA meat processing plants and has been offered exclusively in EDEKA stores since mid-April. The food retailer has included the omega-3 sausage in its own-brand range and is offering nine varieties including Bavarian white sausage, Bavarian meatloaf in thick and thin slices, Lyon sausage, Lyon sausage with paprika pieces, "bierschinken" ham sausages, a "Gourmet Trio" package of three cold sausages, wienerwurst and boiled bratwurst. The sausage varieties contain high amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and have an overall fat content that is well below that of comparable conventional products. "We used specially processed fish oil that contains by itself over 90% of valuable fatty acids," said Peter Eisner, project manager. "For comparison, the original product contains only 30%. Because we optimized the fat balance in general, EDEKA was able to reduce the total amount of fat."

According to a recent survey commissioned by EDEKA, Germans know that omega-3 fatty acids are important and that fish contain them in particularly high-value form, yet neither women nor men eat the recommended weekly amount of 150 grams to 220 grams of fish. As a solution, Fraunhofer researchers sought to increase the amount of effective fatty acids in popular foods that people eat in large quantities like pasta, bread, pizza and sausage.

Researchers developed a special emulsion system to add the omega-3 fatty acids into food products. The new method protects the fatty acid from oxidation which prevents the issue of off-odors. "It optimally combines the effects of various anti-oxidants with each other," said Christian Zacherl from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in the Bavarian town of Freising. Some of the substances used are directly responsible for oxidation protection, while others support the effects of the first group and yet others eliminate substances that accelerate the degradation process in fatty acids. Oxygen has to clear many hurdles before it's able to react with omega-3 fatty acids. Using this new method, "the fatty acids remain stable and can be incorporated into a variety of foods," said Zacherl. Also, the emulsion is able to be adapted specifically to individual products, researchers need only to vary the number and types of hurdles. Fraunhofer has patented its new technology.

For more information on omega-3 fatty acids and functional food formulation possibilities check out the free digital issue Functional Foods on Food Product Design.

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