• Lecithin Food

Lecithin Preference: Unrefined or Standardised?

Lecithin, being a natural product and having emulsification and binding properties, has been constantly gaining traction in the USA and European industries as the product of choice for infusion. However, when it comes to buying lecithin, it can be sourced in three different extraction forms. Each form offers separate features that fit specific use cases.

Unrefined Lecithin

The first on the list is lecithin in its most natural or unrefined form. If we are talking about plant-based Lecithin, then unrefined lecithin would be the stuff we have left when sunflower seeds, rapeseeds, or soybeans oil has been refined. 

Lecithin is extracted from crude seed oil through the method of degumming. At this stage, the lecithin we have is usually in the form of sludge. It is also called crude lecithin.

Afterwards, the sludge is bleached. Regardless of being bleached or not, the resulting compound of lecithin contains about 30 per cent to 35 per cent crude oil and  65 per cent to 70 per cent phosphatides.

Although it can be used as an emulsifying agent even at this stage, the difference in preference depends on the intended function. Regardless of its use, however, if this unrefined lecithin is extracted from soybeans and is used as an emulsifier for a food product, it will carry some adverse effects associated with soy.

These adverse effects can range from the regular risks of allergic reactions to diarrhoea, stomach ache, nausea, constipation, and bloating along with many others.

Bear in mind though, that these issues are mostly exclusively related to lecithin extracted from soybeans.

Standardised Lecithin

So, do consumers still risk facing these problems if manufacturers use standardised soy lecithin or lecithin extracted from other sources?

While some of these adversities may also be caused by standardised soy lecithin, lecithin extracted from other sources, especially sunflower seeds, is known for being 100 per cent allergen-free.

As previously mentioned, lecithin can be used in its unrefined sludge or crude form, standardisation kicks its quality up a notch. It is only after the standardisation process that lecithin can be transformed into its various forms, other than liquid, like gel capsules, granules and powder.

Once refined and standardised lecithin becomes much safer to be used as an emulsifying agent. That is also one of the reasons why most manufacturers, from confectionaries and chocolates to cosmetics and skincare, prefer to use lecithin in its refined form (be it GMO or Non-GMO) rather than its crude form.

Even pharmaceutical industries consider standardised lecithin to be a safer alternative despite the fact that crude lecithin is FDA and EMA approved. 

Would you believe if we told you that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your breaks with a KitKat without lecithin? Lecithin is one of the highest in demand emulsification agents by the global chocolate manufacturing giant like Cadbury. It is the secret product that holds the oil-base and water-base in the chocolate mixture together.

Conclusion

To draw this discussion to a close, it is the composition of lecithin that determines the requirements it can satisfy. The composition of lecithin greatly varies in its crude and standardised forms. The purification process is also responsible for increasing or decreasing the presence of phosphatides in lecithin. These can vary according to the needs of the business that requires lecithin.

However, in strict terms, the only other major impact of refining lecithin is on its potency. The choice of going with either natural, refined, or even chemically modified lecithin is totally dependent on the requirement of your products. 

For example, if your product has a higher oil base compared to water, you would require lecithin that is richer in phosphatidylcholine, or PC to ensure efficient emulsification.

Or, if your mixture holds high water to oil ratio, you probably need a composition of lecithin with increased phosphatidylinositol, or PI, to ensure efficient emulsification. In the end, as a manufacturer, it should be you who decides what kind of lecithin would best suit your product.

The good news is, whether you require a lecithin composition with richer phosphatidylcholine or higher phosphatidylinositol for your factory, LECITEIN has you covered. We hold the technical expertise to deliver you custom-made formulations.

What makes us different from most other lecithin suppliers out there is that we are not just resellers. Unlike the competition, we only deal in standardised lecithin extracted from different plant bases. Our offerings include sunflower lecithin, soy lecithin, and rapeseed lecithin in powdered, liquid, and granulated forms. 

We supply globally with managed logistics. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to us via email or call, and we’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can. 

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