executive impact

Taking the heat off fried foods

By Hugh Ashton

For a long time, it has been known that deep-fried foods cause health problems. Not only do French fries, a guilty pleasure for many, increase their eaters’ weight, with all the health risks associated with obesity, but the oil oxidizes at the temperatures associated with frying starchy foods and oxidized oil poses many questions regarding health.

Worse still, starchy foods (fries, potato chips and bread-crumbed food such as tonkatsu and croquettes), cooked in fat heated to above 160 C (320 F) contains significant amounts of acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen, which was the subject of a lawsuit won last year by the state of California against several major food manufacturers. Fried foods can also produce other chemicals which are judged to cause long-term problems.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to enjoy these fried treats without continually having to worry about the possible dangers to one’s health? In fact, simply reducing the temperature of the oil in which the food is cooked by 10 C (18 F) provides a number of benefits. The amount of acrylamide is significantly reduced, for a start, and this has a number of possible health benefits.

Food fried at a lower temperature also absorbs less fat—helping the obesity problem— and where the fats used are trans fats (banned in a number of jurisdictions as a result of their possible adverse effects on health), other health-related benefits accrue. But how to fry at this lower temperature and keep the food tasty and appetizing?

Takeshi Hara, president of Tokyo’s Greenizer Co Ltd, thinks he has the answer, and his customers, including a major Japanese restaurant chain, agree with him. The G-Fryer works on principles which are not entirely new, but have been refined by a number of researchers, many of them from China.

The G-Fryer is deceptively simple in appearance. The basic model consists of two parts: the control unit and an electrode (larger models have two electrodes). No special installation is needed—simply a connection to a standard domestic wall socket and a safe place for the control unit. The electrode is then placed in the frying oil, and when switched on, delivers direct current electricity at about 2,000 volts.

This sounds dangerously high, but a smiling Hara switches on a demonstration unit, holds the electrode in one hand, and a circuit tester in the other, which lights up, showing that the 2,000 volts is passing through his body! The secret to this death-defying stunt is that the current passing through is extraordinarily low—less than two milliamps, which makes it safer than an ordinary light socket. However, this mysterious negative DC high voltage seems to result in a number of highly beneficial effects, many of which also have subsequent practical benefits.

Since the oil’s thermal conductivity is increased, food can be cooked at a lower temperature, thereby reducing the number of calories by anything up to 25%. In one test involving 100 croquettes cooked using the G-Fryer, the weight of the cooked food was less than that of the frozen uncooked croquettes (possibly due to water loss from the frozen food). Not only that, but the tasting panel overwhelmingly voted for the croquettes cooked in this way. The “greasy lip” syndrome can be a thing of the past, claims Hara.

One very important factor for the operators of frying equipment, as opposed to the consumers, is the fact that the G-Fryer’s voltage reduces oxidization. As well as the health benefits, the oil used in G-Fryer-equipped installations lasts significantly longer—up to twice as long as usual, says Hara. This means that a fast food or restaurant chain can reduce costs and increase the efficiency of frying operations. With the cost of soybean oil having doubled in fall 2008, compared to the price three years prior (to take just one example), such a saving in material costs is far from trivial for any operation relying on fried food as a staple product.

Indeed, it is estimated that the cost of a G-Fryer can be recouped through the savings in oil costs alone within about nine months. Add to this the cost of labor involved in oil changes, and the fact that the cooking area stays cleaner as a result of lower fat temperatures, and overall labor costs for the whole operation are also significantly reduced. This becomes a very significant factor when the G-Fryer technology is applied to large-scale industrial frying applications—indeed, the largest such unit is capable of handling frying operations using up to 1,500 liters of oil.

In addition, the reduced amount of dirty cooking oil and the reduced power used for cooking, make owners of the G-Fryer “greener” than their less sophisticated counterparts.

As mentioned above, a major Japanese restaurant chain is already using this patented technology with success, and a Japanese distributor of a major electrical maker already includes the G-Fryer in its catalog, together with Greenizer’s related negative DC high voltage “stay fresh” system for use in refrigerators.

But while there is still room for expansion in the domestic Japanese market, Hara sees opportunities for the G-fryer in other countries, such as the United States, where fried foods form a larger part of the diet than they do in Japan and where the amount of oil used is correspondingly greater. Accordingly, he is seeking distribution partners who can produce overseas versions of the G-Fryer under license, meeting local requirements for power and safety standards, etc.

It’s rare to find a product claiming to improve health, work for the benefit of the environment, and make food taste better. If Hara can realize his dreams, we can look forward to a world of happier, healthier (and more guilt-free!) eaters of fried food.

© Japan Inc

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Okay, okay, what's the hitch?

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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to enjoy these fried treats without continually having to worry about the possible dangers to one’s health?

There is such a way. You just ignore them.

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Perhaps. Maybe buy stock in that company. But maybe it is hype or spin. These claims have to be tested by an outside source.

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Okay, okay, what's the hitch?

By cooking at lower temperature, it will take a bit longer to get the food ready... Not such a big downside, but probably has an impact on fast foods...

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How can you run a story about a new type of fryer and include a picture of the product's developer instead of the product you're talking about? If someone is interested enough to read the story, do you think they'd be more interested in seeing the company's president, or what the product looks like?

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I have oven-fried my fries for years. I bet they absorb even less oil, as I just spray the necessary amount on the food. There is no oil that is heated several times like in classic deep-frying and controling the temp is easy. That process is also widely used in industry.

If restaurants and food stalls don't adopt it, it's because they want the cheapest and most minimal equipment. Especially in Japan. I mean in Europe, every house and restaurant has a high-tech frying machine, otherwise they never do any fries. I don't think the Japanese ebiten yatai will invest in the new invention.

Then I don't think there are less fried food in Japan than in the US. Come on : tempura, tonkatsu, kuroke, kara age, atsuma age, abura age...

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How can you run a story about a new type of fryer and include a picture >of the product's developer instead of the product you're talking about? >If someone is interested enough to read the story, do you think they'd >be more interested in seeing the company's president, or what the >product looks like?


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in Europe, every house and restaurant has a high-tech frying machine

Explain to me what a 'high-tech frying machine' is. Personally I don't see anything hi-tech in a stainless steel device with a heater and a thermostat which is plugged into the mains. And the 'every house etc. in Europe has . . . is a wildly exaggerated statement based on a very subjective opinion (=ignorance). I may have missed something, but all these fryers use lots of fat to fry even small portions of food. If there exists such a thing as a 'hi-tech fryer' it will be the fryers produced by DeLonghi that feature a rotating basket set at an angle, requiring far less oil than conventional fryers, and which tilts the food in and out of the oil, which reduces the absorption of oil and gives a crispier result.

I would be interested in a G-Fryer for home use though.

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In the 30 last years, the frying machines you see in shops in Europe have a thermostat set at the lower temp possible + oil filter + baskets that moves the stuff in and out automatically + a program to fry it twice (that reduces absobtion and it's necessary to obtain French fries) + a cover with filter that prevents oily vapor + fuses to prevent fire... And they have sold at least one per inhabitant, but you're right, certain people may have several, others none. Well always seen that at home since the beginning of 70's, maybe some people only got them in the 80's. It is required by law for restaurants to have machines at that standard, for security firstly.

It's high-tech seen from Japan. I was surprised to see that here, even if they really fry lots of food, nothing is required. We see pots of oil on the stove all around, even in restaurants. And tempura is the biggest cause of domestic fires in Japan. As I said, it's not because there are no better systems were proposed on the market. People just think it's not necessary.

Then if the food goes inside the oil, it absorbs a lot, if you spray limited amounts of oil on it doesn't. So about 15 yrs ago, they started the "frying machines without oil". For instance, this model uses 1 spoon of oil per kg. For instance : http://www.nouveauxmarchands.com/catalogue/cuisine/cuisson/friteuse/fz7001As I said, you can spray the oil yourself and bake. A little more work, but you'll get the same result. Well, that works perfectly for potatoes, fried chicken, tonkatsu, croquettes, even donuts, but not to do the tempura as the batter is too liquid.

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The Friteuse Sans Huile mentioned by Cos looks great. As a student, a big greasy patch formed on the ceiling above our deep fat fryer, which has dissuaded me from getting another one. What are the chances of finding it here?

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...in other countries...where fried foods form a larger part of the diet than they do in Japan...

Is that true? Katsu (breaded, deep fried) stuff seems to be a favorite bento compoent, while tempura is among the most popular foods. Tonkatsu is really deep-fried chunks of meat(!) and a lunchtime staple here.

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I agree with JeffLee, fried foods are almost ALWAYS in bentos. Be it croquettes, katsu, or tempura, it is hard to find a bento without something fried in it. I wish there was more variety in bentos though. Where are the vegetarian bentos? I also wonder why the article uses the word tonkatsu instead of pork cutlet. Just curious.

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Hamburger patties are approximately 30% fat. Reducing the fat makes them less "juicy." For your next project, Hara-san, try to come up with a way to make other forms of junk food healthy, and I'll put in a good word for you with the Nobel Prize nominating committee.

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Better just to stick to eating veggies, fruit, and other natural foods i think.

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