Oleogel research could revolutionise food manufacturing

Oleogel research could revolutionise food manufacturing

Heriot-Watt University has been awarded one of six research grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in partnership with a consortium of 14 leading food and drink companies.

The total grant funding of £3.7M will support research to investigate diet and health. Prof Stephen Euston of the School of Life Sciences (SLS), in collaboration with Dr Robin Westacott (ERPE), Prof Derek Stewart (SLS) and Dr Paul Clegg (University of Edinburgh) has received a grant of just under £500,000 to research edible oleogels for reduction of saturated fat.

Edible plant-based oleogels have the potential to replace saturated fats in food products, decreasing the health risks but maintaining the taste.
Prof. Stephen Euston
Prof Euston said, “Edible plant-based oleogels have the potential to replace saturated fats in food products, decreasing the health risks but maintaining the taste and ‘mouth feel’ that currently stops many consumers from choosing ‘low-fat’ options. However, knowledge of how they form and creating a stable product is still to be explored.”

Prof Euston and his team will use a combination of experimental and computer modelling methods to explore oleogels. The ultimate aim is to control oleogel structure, and eventually demonstrate oleogel technology in food products.

Successful formulation of edible oleogels will allow healthier oil-based foods that are reduced in saturated fats but maintain a desirable semi-solid or solid texture.

The funding is provided through the Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC), a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) led partnership with 14 food and drink companies, with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).