Lecithin for Food and Industrial Applications

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Commercial lecithin is an important by-product of vegetable oil processing obtained during degumming step. The major commercial source for lecithin is soybean. Lecithin has potential as a multifunctional additive for food, pharmaceutical and industrial applications. Wet gums obtained during degumming step require immediate processing as they have a high content of moisture and decompose within a few hours. The wet gums are dried and quickly cooled to obtain dark colored lecithin. Bleaching is necessary for most of the lecithin applications.


CSIR-IICT has developed process for food and industrial-grade lecithin from soybean gums.

Bleached Lecithin has a variety of applications. It is used as an emulsifier, anti-spattering agent in margarine, confections and snack foods; wetting and dispersing agent in instant foods such as cocoa powder, drinks, coffee whiteners; browning agent and phosphate dispersant in meat and poultry processing; dispersing or mixing aid, plasticizer, anti-oxidant emulsifier or surfactant in adhesives, ceramics and glass, textiles, dyes, paints and other coatings, paper, inks, magnetic tapes, printing.


Major Raw Materials


Crude soybean oil gums, bleaching agent, Hexane.


Brief Process Description


Commercial soybean lecithin usually possess a color of 18+ units on Gardner scale. The present process involves a pre-treatment followed by bleaching with bleaching agent to obtain lecithin with a color of 12 units.


Scale of Demonstration


1kg crude gums / batch.


Product Specifications


Color, 12 (Gardner scale) ; Acid Value, 20-25; Peroxide Value, 2 -


By-products: Nil


Status of Commercialization


Process Know-how for Food grade soyalecithin was transferred to two Indian industries at 1 kg scale


Major Plant Equipment and Machinery Required


STR Reactor, Vacuum systems


IPR: Indian patent filed - 2892 DEL (2014)


For further information please contact


CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology
Uppal Road, Tarnaka,
Hyderabad - 500 007
Phone: +91-40-21791623
E-mail: aau@iict.res.in