Once seen only as a staple of the traditional Hispanic diet, Tortillas have fast become a fixture in the American food industry . Fresh and packaged tortillas can be found virtually anywhere, from burritos at sporting venues to the menu at your favorite fast food chain , as well as dozens of brands of packaged products throughout national supermarkets.
As tortilla manufacturing facilities begin to sprout throughout the United States ,the Tortilla industry , like the bakery industry has to conform to legislation such as the trans fat ban. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil , once a popular ingredient in flour tortillas , has to give way to trans fat free alternatives to meet the labeling of less that 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Trans fatty acids are present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats such as soy and canola . These fats are put through the hydrogenation process to give them specific properties such as an increased melting point, hardness, plasticity, texture and stability which are essential to the tortilla making process. During the hydrogenation process, however, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fats are harmful as consumption increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
To combat the trans fat dilemma, many tortilla manufacturers have turned to palm oil shortenings. As palm oil is naturally a semi solid at room temperature, it does not require hydrogenation and therefore does not produce trans fats. Palm Shortening is also well endowed with saturated palmitic fatty acids (44%), monounsaturated oleic (39%) fatty acids and polyunsaturated linoleic acid (10%). This combination of fatty acids provides an ideal mix for stability and an increased shelf life for the tortillas as compared to traditional soy shortening. Many companies have also prefer to use a palm cake and icing , as the mono glycerides , an emulsifier, result in a softer and fresher tortilla.
By: Sean Neman
Western Pacific Oils
Western Pacific Oils is one of North America’s leading distributors who supplies a range of oil palm based products. We sell our products through food service distributors and customized orders for large end users. Amongst our wide produce range, is a specialized trans fat free tortilla shortening , which was mentioned in this article.