Oils and Fats – Spreadable and Liquid Form

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Fats and oils are chains of fatty acids which are primarily made up of carbon atoms. Fats and oils are high energy foods that provide approximately nine calories per grams of fat to the human body. This energy is twice the amount of energy given by starch and sugars. This may be a contributing factor that makes fat an alarming issue with the diet authorities. But if a person intakes the fats amount when needed and chooses them carefully the fats can be beneficial.
The production of edible oils and fats involves around three crucial stages:
The first step involves the extraction of crude oil from the raw materials which includes the slaughters of cattle, sheep, and hogs, etc.; from the fatty fish and other marine mammals; plants having fleshy fruits like palm, olive, etc.; and various oilseeds. Then refining of the crude oil takes place to produce pure, colorless and odor-free oils. Finally, the processing of the refined oil and fats into blends takes place along with ingredients like vitamins, pasteurized skimmed milk, proteins, coloring materials, etc. (Willey, 2001).

Sources and collection of raw materials

The primary raw material that contains the fats and oils either come from animals or plants.
Cocoa butter, coconut fat, and balm butter, etc. are obtained using a particular method for respectively. These fats can be utilized widely in the food industry. Oils come from vegetables and seeds of the fruit. Edible oil can be produced from the nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.
Fat from animals can be extracted from marine animals and terrestrial animals. Lard is the most common animal fat used in pastry and cake making that comes from the porcine adipose tissue. Another animal fat called tallow is obtained from cattle, goats, etc. Food products produced from the terrestrial animals have a varying quantity of fat contents. Various fatty fishes have high-fat content and high content of omega-3 fatty acid.

Primary Production

The crude oil contains free fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, peroxides, metals, oxides and some unsaponifiable matter. The most widely used oil in refining is soybean oil, and it can be used to represent many vegetable oils.
Fat and oils undergo four main steps of processing:
(a.)     Extraction of Fats and oils 
(b.)     Neutralization
(c.)    Bleaching
(d.)    Deodorization
•    Extraction of Fats and oils: 
Extraction of Fats and oils can be done from rendering which is used for extraction of oils from seeds and nuts and extraction of fats from the animal tissues. During this process, the seeds and tissues that bear the oil are first chopped and then boiled in water for some time. This makes the oil float on the surface and water and is skimmed. Further, an excess of phospholipids can be removed by the process of Degumming. Processes like mechanical pressing and solvent extraction can also be used.
•    Neutralization:
The oil and fat extracted in the first process are then treated with soda ash or caustic soda at 45º to 80º C. The impurities present in them are settled down and can be easily drawn off. This refined oil so obtained has a lighter color and less viscosity.
•    Bleaching: 
In this process, oil is mixed with clay, and it helps to remove excess pigments, peroxides, and metals. The clay is then removed by filtration, and it then treated with hot water for deoiling.
•    Deodorization:
It involves vaporization of volatile compounds present in the oil and fats and thus results in an odorless oil or fat. The oil so produced in the end is called the ‘Refined oil.' (Formo, n.d.)

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Quality and Hygienic Issues

The oil from seeds, terrestrial animals and fishes are very delicate food production, and hence, the consumers depend on their safety. Hence, the preparation of oils and fats must be done with utmost care providing the user with a high-quality safe product. Various measures to make sure the quality of fats and oils are:
•    Various appropriates safety guidelines of methods and procedures must be established by the producers;
•    The suppliers should also ensure the quality of the raw materials;
•    A recognized qualified body should audit all the relevant quality measures;
•    A certified verification of the material along with its specifications must be done;
•    Verifying the methods used in the production of the oils and fats. (Scientific Opinion on Fish Oil for Human Consumption. Food Hygiene, including Rancidity1, 2010

New Development and Innovations

The health sector has been constantly trying to achieve the following goals: 
? lowering of Trans Fatty Acids (TFA), 
? lowering of Saturated Fatty Acids (SAFA) and 
? increasing the Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA, PUFA)
The food industry has been investing considerable amount on the reduction of TFA levels in the concerned product since the 1990s. Much has been invested in the development of equipment, packaging, research and development, testing, etc. of the oils as well as the fats. As a result, a reduction has been seen the TFA level. The reduction was seen when the TFA were replaced by the SFA as both have similar characteristics using
(a.)    Different raw materials with higher level of SFA content;
(b.)    By using highly stable oil like high oleic rapeseed oil etc.
(c.)    Using antioxidants;
(d.)    Innovating the procedure of processing like using a little-hydrogenated fat that has small amount of TFA content, hydrogenating the liquid oils, etc. (Innovation in processing and reformulation of vegetable oils and fats, 2011)
Various other innovations like using the waste vegetable oil having a large amount of free fatty acids for the synthesis of biodiesel. This has been carried out using a solid acid catalyst that was carbon based. (Shu et al., 2010) Further innovations like the use of palm oil biodiesel as a renewable energy source have also been seen. (Mekhilef, Siga, and Saidur, 2011)]
Further various developments like the development of high-oil corn; changing the profile of fatty acids in oils like sunflower, canola, etc. and most importantly the genetic engineering for improvement of pesticide.


The growth of fat and oil industry has been phenomenal because of their rising demand and high use in other industries. Oils have been sometimes replaced with each other due to the trends which are affecting the costs as well as the perceptions that the consumers have for a particular oil. Further many innovations and development have also been done to ensure the quality and safety of the products.


•    Willey, R. (2001). Fats, Oils, and Greases: The Minimization and Treatment of Wastewaters Generated from Oil Refining and Margarine Production. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 50(2), pp.127-133.
•    Formo, M. (n.d.). fat and oil processing | chemistry. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/topic/fat-processing [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
•    Scientific Opinion on Fish Oil for Human Consumption. Food Hygiene, including Rancidity1. (2010). 1st ed. [ebook] Italy: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), p.20. Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/1874.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
•    Innovation in processing and reformulation of vegetable oils and fats. (2011). 1st ed. [ebook] Bruxelle: FEDIOL Nutrition Factsheet, p.2. Available at: http://www.fediol.be/data/1324550245Factsheet%20Innovation%20in%20processing%20%26%20reformulation%209Dec11.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
•    Shu, Q., Gao, J., Nawaz, Z., Liao, Y., Wang, D. and Wang, J. (2010). Synthesis of biodiesel from waste vegetable oil with large amounts of free fatty acids using a carbon-based solid acid catalyst. Applied Energy, 87(8), pp.2589-2596.
•    Mekhilef, S., Siga, S. and Saidur, R. (2011). A review on palm oil biodiesel as a source of renewable fuel. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15(4), pp.1937-1949.

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