Z-Trim – Gluten free meatballs and all that

A colleague who was visiting the IFT in New Orleans this year visited Z-Trim’s stand (Z-Trim, Mundelein, Ill. USA). What do they make I asked ? Apparently that might have the answer to high fat products by offering a fat substitute based on corn and oats. OK !

Further checking and I noticed that the USDA in 1995 had sanctioned a corn-based, zero-calorie fat substitute made from corn husks which could help the product developer replace up to half  the fat in various foods without supposedly altering the flavour or mouthfeel and texture of the product.  Z-Trim via a subsidiary called FiberGel technologies had started selling this fibre from 2002 onwards.

My colleague tried the Gluten-Free Cajun meatballs  which contained the natural Corn Z-Trim©. The Z-Trim ingredient is mainly water with 4% fibre which is extracted from corn hulls. As with many waste products this was used as animal feed until it was realised that as a human food material it could be used to replace gums, fats and other materials contributing mouthfeel. It is certainly not a gum or fat itself albeit it functions mainly to replace fat.

Other product developers I know have found it has no flavour or aroma but works well in baked goods  like cakes where it keeps the food product moist without drying and does not detract from the taste. There is no aftertaste or intestinal issues associated with it either. It is not suitable for frying with although it has heat stability. Once rehydrated it retains its integrity – so no formation of brittle areas or fracturing and it retains structure over shelf-life.

Further studies are probably needed to verify its clinical performance but so far no issues yet.

In safety terms, the USDA recognise the product as safe as do the Center for Science in the Public Interest who are keen promoters of healthy eating. The take up of Z-Trim is patchy although there is a range of products to be found using this ingredient.

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