Lecithin is a ubiquitous ingredient that is derived from various sources. While it has garnered significant prominence in the food and beverage industry, it is a mainstay in various other industrial sectors.
Nothing less is expected of a versatile product with great functional properties, right?
What manufacturers need to understand, however, is that not all lecithin is created equal. Although it is available in various grades, each comes with its own distinct characteristics tailored to specific applications.
Knowing the intricacies of these grades is crucial for food and beverage manufacturers, industrial product developers, and animal feed producers to make informed sourcing decisions, optimise product development and maintain product quality.
Before you reach out to a supplier and order lecithin for your manufacturing plant, you must understand what differs each lecithin grade from the other.
For starters, lecithin grades are primarily categorized based on their phosphatidylcholine or PC content. It is a key determinant of their functional properties. PC content typically ranges from 10% to 60%, with higher PC levels generally indicating stronger emulsifying and stabilizing abilities.
The three primary lecithin grades are:
Food-grade lecithin is the epitome of purity and quality. It is meticulously refined to meet stringent food safety standards as defined by reputed global bodies like the FDA, USDA, EPSA, and the European Union.
The PC content of food-grade lecithin typically ranges from 30% to 60%, making it an indispensable emulsifier and stabiliser in food formulations.
Food-grade lecithin enables the seamless blending of oil and water, preventing separation and ensuring a smooth, consistent texture in dressings, sauces, spreads, and baked goods.
It also acts as a stabiliser and prevents foam collapse in whipped toppings, ice cream, and mousses, and enhances the shelf life of products by hindering phase separation.
Flavour enhancement is also a speciality of food-grade lecithin as it facilitates the dispersion of flavour compounds throughout food products, intensifying the overall flavour profile.
Last, it contributes to a softer, more delicate crumb structure in baked goods, and enhances the mouthfeel of various food products. There are other uses of food-grade lecithin as well like its application as an anti-sticking agent, for instance.
However, the four that we discussed are its most common uses in the food industry.
Industrial-grade lecithin is often referred to as technical or commercial lecithin. So there’s no mistaking its suppliers. It is characterized by a broader PC content range. Typically between 10% and 60%.
Its versatility extends beyond food applications, finding its niche in various industrial sectors.
Like food-grade lecithin, industrial-grade lecithin also serves as an effective emulsifier in a wide range of non-food applications, such as paints, inks, and cosmetics.
Other than an emulsifier, it is also used as a dispersing agent to promote the uniform distribution of pigments and other additives in various industrial products. This ensures a consistent appearance and colour.
Another quality of industrial-grade lecithin is its capability to enhance the wetting ability of liquids, facilitating their penetration into porous materials like leather and textiles.
Finally, it acts as a lubricant and release agent in various industrial processes, reducing friction and improving product release from moulds or machinery, similar to the food industry, but less common.
Feed-grade lecithin is specifically formulated for animal feed applications. It boasts PC content that ranges from 30% to 60% and plays a pivotal role in animal nutrition and overall well-being.
One of the main qualities of feed-grade lecithin is its nutrient absorption property. It promotes the absorption of essential nutrients, such as choline and phosphatidylcholine, the two chemicals that are crucial for brain function, liver health, and cell membrane integrity in animals.
It also enhances the energy metabolism in animals, contributing to improved feed utilization and growth performance. But it doesn’t end there. Feed-grade lecithin can also enhance the palatability of animal feed, increasing feed intake and promoting overall animal health.
Some farmers use it to act as a dust suppressant in animal feed because it reduces respiratory irritation and improves the overall environment for both animals and workers.
LECITEIN is a global supplier of plant-based lecithin solutions, aptly designed for the food and beverage industry. Our unwavering commitment to providing F&B manufacturers with the highest-quality lecithin products has helped us land some of the industry’s most reputed names.
Check our complete catalogue of lecithin products to find the perfect plant-based lecithin for your needs.
The choice of lecithin grade hinges on its specific application and desired functional properties. Food-grade lecithin reigns supreme in culinary applications. Industrial-grade lecithin serves as a versatile workhorse in the paint and cosmetics industries, while feed-grade lecithin nurtures animal health in the animal farming industry.
LECITEIN, with its expertise and commitment to quality, can become your trusted partner in navigating the food-grade lecithin landscape. Apart from our comprehensive range of solutions, we also offer unmatched technical support and a fully trackable supply chain.
If you are operating in the F&B industry, LECITEIN's plant-based lecithin solutions are the key to unlocking your desired outcomes.