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Whey protein open doors to low-fat fried chicken

By Stephen Daniells , 20-Nov-2009

Including whey proteins in the batter for fried chicken may reduce the uptake of fat into the finished product by up to 30 per cent, says a new study.

Using a denatured whey protein isolate, Ann Dragich and John Krochta from the University of California, Davis report that the fat uptake in fried chicken slices could be significantly reduced – a result that offers possibilities to the reduced-fat food sector.

Writing in the Journal of Food Science, Dragich and Krochta also note that the approach should be tried in other food with higher oil uptake, including “doughnuts, French fries, and vegetables such as eggplant and mushrooms”.

The study supports previous findings from Ohio University, which showed that whey protein isolates reduced the fat content of deep-fried foods without affecting the hardness or crunchiness of the finished food.

The Athens, Ohio-based researchers noted in the Journal of Food Science in 2008 that the global popularity of battered and breaded food products is on the rise. However, this is juxtaposed with efforts to reduce fat intake, thereby creating significant challenges to food scientists.

New findings

Dragich and Krochta coated chicken strips with wheat flour, and then dipped them in a batter and followed by a solution containing 10 per cent whey protein isolate (instantized BiPRO whey protein isolate, Davisco Foods). A control batch without the whey protein was also prepared.

Following frying at 160 Celsius for five minutes, the researchers noted that the whey protein isolate dipped chicken contained 31 per cent less fat than the control chicken.

“The addition of 10 per cent denatured whey protein isolate solution dip reduced the fraction of calories from fat [from 33 per cent] to 25 per cent,” they said. “Federal recommendations state that 30 per cent or less of daily calories should be from fat. This reduction could easily be meaningful to consumers and worth the added cost of production.”

Commenting on the sensory profile of the reduced-fat fried chicken, Dragich and Krochta state that the moisture content, and therefore the perceived succulence of the product, was not significantly different from the control chicken. Furthermore, no changes in the colour of the final product were observed, compared to the control chicken.

Practical application

“[We present] applied research involving fat reduction in coated deep-fried chicken,” explained the researchers. “The methods used in this article were intended to achieve maximized fat reduction while maintaining a simple procedure applicable to actual food processing lines,” they added.

Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01408.x
“Whey Protein Solution Coating for Fat-Uptake Reduction in Deep-Fried Chicken Breast Strips”
Authors: A.M. Dragich, J.M. Krochta

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