Grabenstr. 3 • 58095 • Hagen, NRW • Germany
Maxfry ingredients improve stability and performance in vegetable oils used for deep frying – but recently interest has spiked among those looking to cut acrylamide, as a new European limit has come into force.
Germany-headquartered Maxfry was established in 2002, the same year that Swedish researchers first discovered surprisingly high levels of the carcinogen acrylamide in high carbohydrate foods – at up to 500 times the World Health Organization limit for drinking water. Since then, manufacturers have been looking for ways to reduce acrylamide in deep fried foods, particularly as an EU regulation set a limit of 750 micrograms per kilogram of food in April 2018.
“Maxfry started developing ingredients for vegetable oil to improve the heat and stability of vegetable oil,” said the company’s director of sales and marketing Sven Seifer. “The target was to make it possible to use healthy oils – liquid vegetable oils like rapeseed oil or sunflower oil, which are known as healthy oils – but they are not very heat stable.”
The Maxfry products protect vegetable oils from thermal oxidative stress, making oils more stable at the high temperatures needed for deep frying, and also improve heat transfer from the oil, allowing the same crispness in deep fried foods but with reduced frying time at a lower heat.
Acrylamide is formed in starchy foods when they are baked, fried or toasted at above 120°C through a process called the Maillard reaction, which gives foods like chips, crisps, baked goods, coffee and breakfast cereals their brown colour and much of their flavour.
“The acrylamide part is a nice feature that comes with the product because the formation of acrylamide comes along with frying time,” Seifer said.
However, the main appeal of Maxfry’s products is rooted in economics. European food companies are eager to use healthier oils for deep fried foods, and to move away from palm oil – while still benefiting from palm oil’s low cost. It takes just 50 grams of the company’s vegetable-based product to improve the performance of 10 kilograms of vegetable oil, effectively making it suitable for deep frying and doubling its service life.
“To have the possibility to use any oil in your food production gives you the freedom to react to the market,” Seifer said. “Palm oil is still the most loved oil in Europe but you always have problems with the image of this product. People are always searching for possibilities to get a healthy alternative to palm oil that’s just as stable.
“The Maxfry products allow manufacturers to use sunflower oil, for example, and make it nearly as stable as palm oil.”
In Europe, the most interesting oils from a cost perspective are rapeseed oil and sunflower oil, or variations of these such as high oleic sunflower oil, because they are produced locally on a large scale.
While acrylamide reduction is an important talking point right now, Seifer is confident that desire for cheaper, healthier oils for deep frying will continue to drive the business in the future.
“Acrylamide is an important thing, but it’s not the main motor that drives our business,” he said. “…People want cheap products, they want healthy products, and they want stable products.”
He added, “I think the demand is still growing because the market for healthy food is still growing – but the market for deep fried food also is still growing. People like to eat healthy, but they also want deep fried foods. There is a market for ‘as healthy as possible’ deep fried products.”