By José Antonio Pacheco Estrada, I. Q., Developer, R&D at MINSA
In recent years, much attention has been drawn to the snack food industry because many of the ingredients used in snack foods have been identified as the main causes of certain health problems such as obesity. Consequently, the term “junk food”, signifying high calorie and trans fat contents, is heard everywhere among consumers, who often have little understanding of its real meaning.
Fried snack foods are especially singled out as being the cause of health problems. As such, the industry has taken pains to think of alternative manufacturing processes to bring snack foods to consumers, such as extrusion (air-inflation) and baking.
Oven baking is a unitary operation that can be found in some processes such as extrusion and the making of laminated products, allowing the industry to offer healthier products. An example of this manufacturing shift can be seen in corn chips, tostadas and corn curls, which used to be fried, but are now widely available in oven-baked versions.
Because of this move to oven processing, raw materials for snack foods are also undergoing innovation, as MINSA has developed special whole-grain flours that offer healthier properties.
The manufacturers of snack foods are striving to develop low-calorie contents for these frequently consumed products. Oven baking processes constitute a great option for the development of these products.