With the rising living standards, consumers' requirements for food are increasingly higher. Not only they expect for nutritious and safe food, but they also demand for unique and innovative tastey food. Food additive expands the variations of food products. The applications of food additives have been expanding due to the indepth research and development as well as restrict regulations. Thousands of food additives are in use in our daily food productions to expand the shelf-lives and enhance the staiblities of products. Surfactant is one of the most common group of food additives.
Surfactants are amphiphilic, they comsist of both hydrophilic and lipophilic groups; which allows them to diffuse in between the interface of water and oil/ liquid and air/ liquid and solid. This interaction lowers the surface tension between two immisible liquids/ liquid and air/ liquid and solid. Surfactants have various functions, include, emulsification, thickening agent, dispersant and wettening agent etc.
Polysorbates and sorbitan esters are two common classes of surfactants. They are widely used in the food industry due to their multi-functional proporty. Polysorbates can create oil-in-water emulsions, whereas sorbitan esters can create water-in-oil emulsions. Depending on the characteristic of the food matrix, either adding a single emulsifer or a blend of polysorbates and sorbitan esters can create a stable emulsion.
Polysorbate and sorbitan esters can be added into bread or cake mix to enhance textural quality. They can reduce degradation by preventing hydrophobic interaction of amylose, as well as to promote gluten formation, thereby improving foaming and the dispersion of air pockets. In high fat containing food formulations such as, ice cream, whipping cream and chocolate, sorbitan esters can enhance the dispersion of oil and water, thus promotes product stability. Polysorbate can also reduces coalescence of air bubbles in beverages like beer, by stabilizing liquid films through steric force.