Have your cake and eat it with insect-based fat

Tuesday, 11 February, 2020

Have your cake and eat it with insect-based fat

When insect-based fat is used to replace less than half of the butter in bakery products, one can hardly taste the difference, according to research at Ghent University in Belgium.

The researchers baked three versions of waffles, biscuits and cakes using the fat from black soldier fly larvae:

  1. A normal version with only butter.
  2. A version in which a quarter of the butter was replaced by insect fat.
  3. A version in which half of the butter was replaced by insect fat.

The bakery products were then served to a taste panel of consumers, asking if they could taste the difference.

The cake with a quarter of insect fat passed the test; the taste panel did not notice that insect fat was used.

In the case of waffles, they did not even notice the presence of insect fat when half of the butter had been replaced. Also, the texture and colour were hardly affected as compared with butter.

Why change to insect-based fat?

Insect fat could provide health and sustainability advantages.

“The ecological footprint of an insect is much smaller compared to animal-based food sources,” said researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa (Ghent University). “Besides, we can grow insects in large quantities in Europe, which also reduces the footprint of transport. After all, palm fat is often imported from outside of Europe.”

From a nutritional point of view: “Insect fat is a different type of fat than butter,” researcher Tzompa-Sosa explained. “Insect fat contains lauric acid, which provides positive nutritional attributes since it is more digestible than butter. Moreover, lauric acid has an antibacterial, antimicrobial and antimycotic effect. This means that it is able, for example, to eliminate harmless various viruses, bacteria or even fungi in the body, allowing it to have a positive effect on health.”

Could food producers be using insect fat anytime soon?

Researcher Joachim Schouteten said: “That is possible. Currently the price is still too high, because it is only produced on a small scale. We will have to investigate what consumers think on a larger scale. Products with insects such as insect burgers have not yet proved to be a great success. Bakery products with insect fat are more likely to be appreciated, because the insects are merely a form of fat substitute.”

The research was published in Food Quality and Preference Volume 79, January 2020.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/madscinbca

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