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Illinois Company Licenses High-Fiber Fat
Replacer By Jan
October 25, 2002
"Z-trim," a natural, high-fiber fat replacer made from crop
commodities such as oat, soybean or rice hulls, may be a step closer to
becoming a commercial product for reduced-calorie foods.
Towards that end, Circle Group Internet, Inc. of Mundelein,
Ill., recently acquired Fiber-Gels Technologies, Inc., a technology holding
interest that had previously licensed exclusive rights to the fat replacer from
the Agricultural Research Service.
ARS chemist George Inglett originally developed the fat replacer
around 1995 while investigating methods of turning crop components like fiber
and starch into new, value-added products. In evaluations at ARS'
National Center for Agricultural
Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., Inglett showed that Z-trim imparts
many of fat's desired characteristics to foods. These include pleasing texture,
"mouth feel," body and moisture retention.
Inglett initially called his invention "Fake Fat" because,
unlike some other products, it adds no calories to food--only insoluble fiber,
which aids digestion. He later changed the name to Z-trim when ARS patented his
invention in June 1998 on behalf of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Circle Group intends to submit Z-trim to the
Food and Drug Administration for
classification as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredient. The company
plans to seek commercial food processors to help market Z-trim for use in dairy
products, baked goods, ground meats, pasta, snack foods and nutritional
In ARS baking trials, mixing one-half teaspoon of Z-trim into
brownie mix cut 29 grams of fat (261 calories). Trained sensory panelists who
sampled the brownies, which contained 15.5 percent fat, ranked them favorably
to brownies with 25 percent fat, Inglett reports. Hamburgers containing Z-trim
had 10-15 percent less fat than normal patties, depending on how much was used.
Circle Group's license coincides with recent estimates that more
than half of Americans are overweight. Interestingly, demand for carbohydrate
fat-replacers is rising, with forecasts predicting a $360-million market by
ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency.