As the important part of food additives, emulsifier is used in many foods due to its multi-functions, high-efficiency and low cost. It is now widely used in bakery products, confectionaries, cream products, sausages, drinks, etc.
What is an emulsifier?
Emulsifier is a substance that stabilizes an emulsion by increasing its kinetic stability. One class of emulsifiers is known as surfactants. Emulsifiers are compounds that typically have a polar or hydrophilic part and a non-polar part, and because of this, emulsifiers tend to have more or less solubility either in water or in oil. Emulsifiers that are more soluble in water will generally form oil-in –water emulsions, while emulsifiers that are more soluble in oil will form water-in-oil emulsions.
Food Emulsifier in China
Although emulsifier appeared late in China, it has been developing rapidly in recent years. In 1981, there were only monostearin and soybean phospholipid approved for use in China, but now there are more than thirty emulsifiers approved. The traditional emulsifier products include monostearin, sucrose ester, soybean phospholipid, Span, Tween, SSL, and CSL, and the new type food emulsifier includes the ethoxylated decanoyl-rac-glycerol.
The emulsifier with the largest consumption quantity is monostearin, accounting for over 50% of the total emulsifier consumption amount. It has many advantages on the aspects of raw materials, price, usage, storage and manufacturing technique. And now the sales revenue of monostearin and its compound products in China is more than190 million Yuan.
2. Soybean Phospholipid
Soybean phospholipid is a natural emulsifier. The product cost and property may vary based on the different extraction methods. And now, many new technology patents are under application, and in the future the latest technology may be used in extractions of this emulsifier.
3. Sucrose Ester
Sucrose ester is composed of hydrophilic sucrose and oleophilic fatty acids, and has a wide applications with its good emulsifiability. Due to its weak heat resistance and high price, it is usually used with other oleophilic emulsifiers. Now there is still a gap in production technology with other countries, and the domestic enterprises must adapt to the development to face the new challenges.
4. Ethoxylated Decanoyl-rac-Glycerol
It is a high performance emulsifier and surfactant which can be widely used in food, medical industry and fine chemicals. Different from the traditional emulsifiers, the ethoxylated decanoyl-rac-glycerol is a product with nutrition enhancing effects, which can better meet the natural and healthy development trend of the food industry. Though the number of manufacturers and the domestic production capacity are not large, with the increasing requirement on emulsifiers and the improving application technology, this product will have a promising future in the domestic market.
5. Emulsifier Compounds
Study on formula of emulsifier has become a focus of research in China in recent years. Owning to the limitations of a single emulsifier, the effect may not satisfy all needs. Compared with using only one kind of emulsifier, the compound emulsifier have a better quality of foam stability, texture and flavor. The compound emulsifier can be divided into three types:
1) Complex formulation between emulsifiers, i.e., compound different emulsifiers in order to cause synergistic interaction. Usually these emulsifiers are used in the making of cake emulsifier and oleomargarine;
2) Functional compound: emulsifier, thickener, quality modifier and preservative are compounded together. The compound of emulsifier and thickener can be made into emulsion stabilizer of ice cream and stabilizer of protein beverage;
3) Auxiliary compound: mainly consists of an emulsifier and is mixed with other auxiliaries.
Emulsifier has become an essential food additive and plays an important role in the food industry. The domestic researchers still need to work on product and technology innovations to meet new market needs.