• Lecithin Food

The Advantages of Using Lecithin as a Release Agent

Releasing agents play an important role in most manufacturing businesses and are needed in various industrial applications. They are especially core to the food industry. Batters and doughs have a tendency to stick to surfaces. And, burned residues that stick to moulds and conveyors can hinder efficient processing and product yield, indirectly affecting product quality.

The food sector, specifically the confection and instant food industries, utilise release agents to keep the ingredients from sticking to hot and cold surfaces. They also help in preventing the ingredients like cheese slices and meat from sticking to each other. 

Despite it being a necessity for the food industry, a question that we repeatedly hear is, which release agent is best suited for the sector? Well, what else can it be than lecithin? It is a one-stop solution for pans, moulds, and belt release as well as for smooth separation. Since it has hydrophobic and hydrophilic ends, it can double down in food processing as an emulsifier and a release agent. 

Lecithin’s Functionality as a Release Agent

Because lecithin is lipophilic and hydrophilic, it is ideal for usage on a conveyor belt. There is simple science behind it actually. The amphoteric molecule attracts and repels water at the same time but at opposing ends. 

So, when the fluid is sprayed on the food contact surface, the hydrophilic end, which also surprisingly bonds to metal, attaches. The hydrophobic end is directed outward and tends to push up damp stuff that comes into contact with the belt.

It can also form lipid barriers in fluid forms that make it convenient for aerosol and spray applications.

The Advantages of Using Lecithin as a Release Agent

Here’s a simple overview of the advantages that lecithin offers when used as a releasing agent:

  • It forms a stable film barrier that enhances the process of food separation from contact surfaces in dip tanks as a spray-on application
  • The addition of lecithin makes separation rapid and clean, making cleanup easy
  • Lecithin cuts down on the stickiness of the ingredients helping to curb the waste
  • With lecithin added to the mixture, the dough becomes easier to manipulate for cutting and shaping during production

Lecithin’s Applications as a Release Agent

To understand the advantages of using lecithin as a release agent, we’ll have to look at the impact of its application on each piece of equipment. The details are as follows:

Pan & Mould Release

Lecithin forms a barrier between the food material and the metal surface of pans and moulds preventing the food from interacting with the surface. The hydrophilic lecithin with a high solids concentration is capable of producing the emulsion while also additionally giving release qualities. This trick is commonly used by industrial-sized bakeries to de-pan baked products. 

For pans and moulds, lecithin can be used in: 

  • Pure fluid formulation
  • In aerosol spray form as a propellant as well as oil
  • Or simply an oil-lecithin mixture

Also, deoiled lecithin or an oil-in-water emulsion of lecithin can be an effective spray-release agent. 

A lesser-known advantage of fluid lecithin is that it improves heat resistance and reduces darkening during the cooking process. Release agents like lecithin can either be added to the food formulation during cooking or applied to the cutters, moulds, extruders, and grinders prior to the processing to control the waste and easy cleanup afterwards.

Belt Release for Continuous Cooking or Freezing

Oil plus lecithin formulations are used in food products for better belt release and separation. The formulation is especially important in the final shaping of products like biscuits; products that are extruded into their shapes from dough. 

The same mixture also becomes a great aid in the cleanup and rinsing of conveyor belts once the cooking process is completed.

The oil and lecithin mixture is commonly used in the manufacturing of baked, fried, marinated and pre-cooked food products.  These include pizza, bread, snacks, biscuits and dehydrated frozen fruits and vegetables.

Separating Agent

Products that have cheese and meat as ingredients are stored in varying temperatures and also require a certain level of moisture content for efficient storage so their units don't stick together. Lecithin provides the needed moisture for safe storage. 

Such food products often stick to the machinery during extrusion, grinding, cutting and other production processes. Lecithin also helps keep the ingredients from sticking to the machinery during production.

Only, this requires the use of high-viscosity lecithin as a releasing aid as it forms an invisible barrier between the sliced and shredded items. 

Technical Applications

Besides its value in the food industry, lecithin also holds great value in other industries too as a releasing agent. In tire manufacturing, for instance, lecithin is very commonly used as a separating agent to release tires from their moulds. 

Another industry that uses lecithin is the asphalt industry where it is used to release products created through concrete and cement from their moulds.

Final Thoughts

Release agents are commonly used to ensure that the final product, edible or otherwise, separates easily from different moulds and mechanical surfaces. And, there’s no better releasing agent for industrial use than lecithin. It is an all-natural and label-friendly component that improves separation without impacting the costs much. 

The best part about using lecithin is that it is perfect for all food-grade products as well. Because lecithin has an affinity for both oils and water, it is a helpful component in pan releases and other lubricants. So, if you’re looking for any variant of plant-based lecithin that is Halal and Kosher certified, get in touch with LECITEIN for your needs.

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