Newswise — Low-fat potato chips often fall short in terms of acceptable texture compared to full-fat versions. A new technique offers insights into texture attributes and could be used to help manufacturers develop tastier low-fat chips.

Vegetable oil gives potato chips a crunchy texture and characteristic mouthfeel and taste. The amount of vegetable oil is reduced when manufacturing low-fat potato chips, which affects the sensory qualities of the chips. When analyzing low-fat potato chips, scientists often use trained sensory panelists, which can be expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes subjective. To address this, a team of researchers from PepsiCo and universities in the United Kingdom and Australia developed a method called in vitro oral processing that simulated eating from the first bite through swallow and analyzes the entire process in a more objective way.

They used the processing method to measure the sensory characteristics of samples of chips made with different amounts of oil. One of the low-fat chips that showed the most promise was coated in a thin layer of oil that contained a small amount of a food emulsifier.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers received funding from PepsiCo and the Australian Research Council Linkage Program.

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