Italians are famous for their Mortadella sausage. They are made from crude pork scraps, lard, salt, and spices. They have a 30%-35% fat content, and are viewed as an un-healthy poison instead of a delicious sausage. Roberto Chizzolini, a food scientist at the University of Parma, received a grant to aid in his discovery of a new type of Mortadella sausage. This new type of sausage would have all the characteristics of it's fatty forefather; distinguishable texture, aroma, and flavor. The only thing that would separate it from the original is its low fat content. This would attract many new fans of the sausage, since most disapprove of it because it is quite unhealthy.
Chizzolini plans his experiment around his knowledge of fats and their specific properties. He knows that a fat substitute must be digestible, and for it to be digested it must carry calories into the body. If it is not digested is likely to cause intestinal discomfort. Previous experiments by scientists testing Olestra, the most famous fake fat, have shown how it can cause intestinal problems, but none serious enough to take it off the market. Chizzolini wants to find a better substitute, one that is less complex and low tech. He substitutes a gel, carrageenan, which is derived from red seaweed for the fat in his mortadella sausage. Carrageenan has been used for many years in puddings and toothpaste, and when linked with water mimics the texture of fat. It is solid at room temperature, just like the fat in the sausage, and melts in the mouth. With this helpful gel, Chizzolini is able to reduce the fat content of the sausage from 30%-35% to a mere 14%!.
This article relates to me because it can have a drastic effect on my life. Though I need the fat in my food to rid me of my toothpick stature, too much fat can harm my health. If instead of consuming my regular bag of greasy but delicious potato chips, or links of juicy and fatty sausage, I could ingest a healthier version with less fat.