, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 159-166

Degumming, refining and bleaching soybean oil

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Abstract

This subject deals with the removal of the fat-soluble impurities from crude soybean oil. These impurities may be present in true solution or in a colloidal state; their effective removal is necessary to achieve quality standards for end-use products. The processing step options for the removal of these impurities in any given situation are easily defined; the conditions and practices used, however, are the primary concern of this paper. International trading of soybean oil mandates the degumming step. The increased use of import/export soybean oil increases the importance of this processing practice. Pretreatment and effective contact time are the critical issues. Refining, as a specific process, deals primarily with free fatty acid removal, with or without simultaneous degumming as a single-step operation. State-of-the-art wet, chemical refining practices are described, and the current limitations and future opportunities for the physical refining of soybean oil are discussed. The importance of the bleaching step cannot be overstated and it should be noted that color reduction is only coincidentally achieved. The primary function of the bleaching process is to remove oxidative breakdown products, and the degree or level of treatment should be consistent with that objective. Underbleaching and thermal decolorization (deodorization) of soybean oil are misguided practices. Once “cleaned-up” through adequate bleaching, an oil should be guarded against thermal/oxidative abuse.