Update on vegetable lecithin and phospholipid technologies


  • Willem van Nieuwenhuyzen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Lecipro Consulting, Limmen, The Netherlands
    • Lecipro Consulting, Dusseldorperweg 25, 1906AH Limmen, The Netherlands. Fax: +31 72 5055618
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  • Mabel C. Tomás

    1. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Criotecnología de Alimentos (CIDCA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), La Plata, Argentina
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This paper reviews the production technologies for sourcing lecithins from the oil-bearing seeds soybean, rapeseed and sunflower kernel. The phospholipid composition is measured by newly developed HPLC-LSD and 31P-NMR methods. The phospholipid compositions of the three types of lecithin show small differences, while the fatty acid composition is largely equivalent to the oil source. Regulatory specifications (FAO/WHO, EU, FCC) and DGF and AOCS analytical methods for product quality are compiled. Phospholipid modifications by enzymatic hydrolysis, solvent fractionation, acetylating and hydroxylation processes result in lecithins with specific enhanced hydrophilicity and oil-in-water emulsifying properties. New available phospholipase and lipase enzymes represent opportunities for the esterification of phospholipids with special omega fatty acids and serine groups. Application characteristics are given for use in yellow fat spreads, baked goods, chocolate, agglomerated instant powders, liposome encapsulation, animal feed, food supplements and pharmaceutics.