The healthier face of deep-frying

How manufacturing developments are helping to lower fat, calories and cancer-causing chemicals.

27 February 2019
caloriesmanufacturehealthNPDnutrition
image credit: Crisp Sensation

Considering how very health conscious we’ve become as a species recently, you’d think that ‘deep-frying’ would be practically a dirty word by now. Plant protein, free-from and even clean meat are all terms that have taken the jump from niche to mainstream in the last few years. But deep-frying remains as constant as ever – even in the upper echelons of the fine dining vegan world.

At Michelin-starred Feva Ristorante in Italy, a dish called Aria Fritta is now being served. For those who don’t speak Italian, this is, quite literally, ‘hot air.’

The cloud-like amuse bouche is made by first boiling tapioca skin into a batter, baking it and then deep-frying it. It is then infused with low concentrations of O3 (ozone gas).

Seasoned with blue salt, served on cotton candy with a quince-infused vinegar and accompanied by a vegan white sesame seed mayonnaise, the intention of Aria Fritta is to give the diner the feeling and taste of high-altitude Italy.  

While a novel concept that will surely polarise opinion, it shows that deep-frying still occupies a place even on the most innovative of modern menus.

But the fact remains that it is a particularly unhealthy form of cooking, both in terms of fat content and longer-term well-being. So, in an ever-developing age of healthy eating, what’s happening to move deep-frying forward?  

The ZeroFry method

Over in manufacturing, a “breakthrough innovation” called ZeroFry was unveiled this month by food-coating operation Crisp Sensation. The Swiss company says its new method of crumb-coating snacks and other products removes the need for pre- or deep-frying.

The ZeroFry coatings are said to provide the same crunchy texture as deep-fried versions of products, but with nutritional improvements. An in-house test with 100g’s worth of chicken nuggets achieved 65% less fat, 58% less saturated fat and 27% less calories when compared to other pre- or deep-fried varieties.

To achieve this, chicken pieces were first pre-dusted, then battered, crumbed and put through an oil spray, before finally being baked in a humidity-controlled oven. Crisp Sensation has developed batter, crumb and dust specifically for this method, which they claim also saves on oil, energy and cleaning.

Research from our colleagues at MCA earlier this month revealed that the UK food-to-go market is set to be worth £21.2bn this year – up by 3% on 2018. And with such emphasis now on more healthy lifestyles, innovations such as the above are very much tailored to the modern consumer who still wants their fast-food takeaway but ideally with slightly less bad bits.

Crisp Sensation also claim to “tackle the issue of acrylamide in fried products by offering safe alternatives,” which leads us to yet another production innovation.

Acryleast

Along with the amount of calories and fat that comes with deep-frying, acrylamide content is also a current concern.

While not exclusive to deep-frying, acrylamide is a naturally occurring byproduct from high-temperature cooking that has been identified as a potential carcinogen.

EU laws that came into effect last April regulate the amount present in a number of food and beverage categories, including French fries, potato crisps and biscuits.

As a response to the growing issue, food and beverage giant Kerry Group released a non-GMO acrylamide-reducing yeast named Acryleast at the beginning of this month.

The yeast, which was produced in collaboration with Canadian food tech company Renaissance BioScience, is said to reduce the amount of acrylamide in products by 90% without impacting the manufacturing method or the taste, aroma or texture of the product.

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