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Some food products have undergone a dramatic change due to the evolution of that food product. An example of a food product that has undergone this transformation is fat. Solid fats are obtained from animal products, and liquid fats are obtained from plant products. Solid fats are highly valued due to their stability, and flavor. Before the 20th century solid fats were only available to the very rich considering they were very expensive. The solid structure of fat results from the long chain of saturated triacylgylcerols. In the early 20th century chemists developed a method for making liquid plant oils more stable and have a longer shelf life; this method is known as hydrogenation. In the hydrogenation process, hydrogen gas is added to the triacylglycerols, which saturates the compound making it have a higher melting point, therefore having a solid structure. This made solid fats available to everyone in the public, considering they could take cheap plant oil and turn it into a solid fat through a cheap hydrogenation process. This allowed for the public to have cheap frying oils, because once the triacylglycerol is hydrogenated and saturated it no longer oxidizes rapidly.

Shortly after this invention in the late 20th century, fast food industries boomed. The fast food industries were allowed to grow exponentially since they had access to cheap oils. This was in part the reason for why we have a rising obesity epidemic in our nation as we speak. The fast food industry was able to offer the public convenient, cheap food. The texture of fat and the flavor release of fat are very favorable attributes, therefore people have made fat substitutes, replacers, and mimetics to attempt to copy the sensory attributes of fat without having undesirable effects from consuming fat; such as gaining weight. Some examples of fat replacers are gums and starches, and an example of a fat mimetic is Simplesse. One fat substitute was called Olestra. Olestra was developed as a result of esterifying fatty acids to a sucrose molecule, therefore making the compound too large to digest. Therefore, Olestra had the same physical properties of fat, like texture and ability to carrying fat-soluble flavors. The company that made Olestra made a huge mistake in investing an abundant amount of money into their product, because they assumed that people would like it, when in fact no one wanted to consume it. No one wanted to eat Olestra instead of fat, because a case study suggested that if one cannot digest something it just comes out like it went in. Therefore everyone was afraid they would have anal leakage from consuming the Olestra fat substitute. Although, the public was incorrect, considering one would have to ingest a crazy amount of Olestra to suffer those consequences, the public still did not want it, and as a result this product was a failure. Also, this product most likely failed due to numerous amounts of studies that were published stating the disadvantages of consuming Olestra. For example, a study stated that Olestra “causes gastrointestinal disturbances…including diarrhea, fecal urgency, and more frequent and looser bowel movements” (). Hence, these studies convinced the public to not consume this fat substitute.


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