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Study: How Scientists Reduce Fats from Chocolates Using Electricity

Jun 28, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
A new study revealed that replacing cocoa butter with electric shock during the chocolate production could lead to a healthier and tastier chocolates.
(Photo : Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Petrossian)

Researchers from Temple University have devised a new method of moving liquid chocolate in the pipes without the use of cocoa butter, resulting to 20 percent reduction of its fat content.

At present, chocolate production involves melted fats and oils, mostly cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is used to make the liquid chocolate flow smoothly in the factory pipes, preventing potential build up that can block the pipes.

The new method, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, made use of the "smart fluid" property of chocolates. Like machine oil, the viscosity of chocolates can continuously and rapidly react to electricity.

By exposing the chocolate liquid to an electric field, the cocoa solids in the liquid chocolate can turn from its original circular shape to be flattened and pass through the pipes even without the addition of cocoa butter. The reduction of the cocoa butter in the production process means a 10 to 20 percent lesser fat.

For the new method, researchers inserted an electric sieve into the liquid chocolate. Cocoa particles passing through the sieve received an electric shock, flattening the particles. The shock will also cause the flattened particles to behave like magnets that lined up to form long chain, allowing more room for the chocolate to move.

According to the report from Pulse Headlines, the researchers noted that their new method is capable of slashing down the fat content of chocolates by 28 percent. At present, chocolate manufactures can only cut down the fat content in their products by 36 percent.

Although the researchers describe the finish product of their new method to be "healthier and tastier" chocolates, some food scientists remain skeptical. John Hayes, a food scientist and the director of the Sensory Evaluation Center at Penn State University, stated that there is no sufficient data to support the tastier claim of the researchers.

According to Hayes, Cocoa butter is an important part of the chocolate due to its melting properties. Therefore, removing cocoa butter during the production of the chocolate could also change the melting temperature of the chocolate.

"Less butter would mean more powdery, more brittle, more stringent" Hayes told National Public Radio.

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