The choice of raw materials

To manufacture a margarine or fat that is solid at room temperature, the recipe must include a proportion of at least one ingredient containing enough saturated fats to give structure to the product.

Indeed, there is a direct correlation between the solid character of a product and its levels of saturated fat: the more saturated fat it contains, the more solid it is. In lay terms, saturated fats “slot” easily into each other whereas unsaturated fats have more irregular structures less conducive to forming a “rigid” assembly.

This makes it impossible to work exclusively with rapeseed, soya, olive or sunflower oils because in their natural state these are … liquids. The only way to use these liquid oils is to solidify them artificially through the hydrogenation process, that is to say by adding hydrogen atoms to hang them to the carbon chain of the acid fat, thus stiffening its structure.

However, while so-called “total” hydrogenation”, i.e. Adding hydrogen atoms over the entire carbon chain, poses no particular health problem, the term hydrogenation is generally associated in people’s minds with so-called “partial” hydrogenation. Partial hydrogenation, today almost abandoned except for some very specific applications, entails not adding sufficient hydrogen atoms to complete all the links of the carbon chain. Advantage: the texture can be adapted at will depending on the degree of partial hydrogenation. Big disadvantage: through the links that are left free, this technique indirectly generates trans fats that represent a proven danger to health.

Therefore, given that animal fats are no longer in demand among our customers, particularly because of the “mad cow” food crisis, and that hydrogenated vegetable oils are systematically associated, wrongly when fully hydrogenated, with trans fatty acids and therefore a danger to health, there are only few alternatives if we want to add this level of saturated fatty acids to our products.

It is therefore because palm oil has a relatively intermediate level of saturated fat compared to coconut oil for example, that we, as well as many professionals in the food industry, have turned towards this vegetable oil.

Contrary to popular belief, it is because we are intent on putting together the most balanced recipes possible that we need palm oil.

In addition, palm oil is almost never used alone in a margarine that is found in a supermarket, for example. Furthermore, very often we combine palm oil with rapeseed oil in our products, to further improve their overall nutritional profile.

While a fat must of course be consumed in moderation, we are however intent on formulating products that also contribute their share of good fats necessary for the proper functioning of our body.

“Trans” fatty acids

At s.a. Aigremont n.v. we believe that the quality of our products is paramount.

That is why all our recipes are formulated to offer a product with a balanced profile and meeting all the technical constraints imposed by the final use of the fat.

Thus, all our products have been “Low Trans” for many years.

Briefly, trans fatty acids are considered as unhealthy fats because they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

They have a triple effect that is responsible for this increase:

  • They increase the rate of bad cholesterol (LDL or low density lipoprotein) in the blood.
  • They reduce the rate of good cholesterol (HDL or high density lipoprotein) in the blood.
  • They increase the concentration of triglycerides when fasting.

Thus, the bad cholesterol caused by these trans fats gradually build up on the walls of the veins and arteries, which increasingly alters blood flow to a dangerous degree. To fight against this problem, we go well beyond current guidelines that advocate a maximum rate of 2% of trans in a fat. Indeed, all the raw materials we use have only minor amounts of trans, allowing us to deliver finished products with rates well under 1%.

Reducing salt

Because we believe the quality of our products also requires a measured use of all our ingredients, since 2009 s.a. Aigremont n.v. has already started to gradually remove the salt from its references in which it is not absolutely necessary as a technical additive.

This is in keeping, inter alia, with the recommendations of the PNNS (National Nutrition and Health Programme) that set out to reduce average salt intake in our daily diet. Indeed, over-consumption of salt is a risk factor that encourages in particular the development of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and osteoporosis.

Faced with this problem, we have therefore deliberately excluded or drastically reduced salt in all our recipes. It is now only present in small quantities in some types of cooking applications where salt plays an important role against splashes, or at the explicit demand of some customers, due to technical issues in their applications or simply tor reasons of taste.