Fats spec sheet used in bakery products is a document that expresses and defines the requirements that must be met by fat, shortening, margarine and oil suppliers.

Fats Spec Sheet

Also known as a technical product data sheet

What is a Fats Spec Sheet?

The spec sheet for fats used in bakery products is a document that expresses and defines the requirements that must be met suppliers in order to comply with bakeries’ ingredient quality specifications and processing conditions. This includes:

  • Fat
  • Shortening
  • Margarine
  • Oil

How does it work?

A fat spec sheet should provide maximum, minimum and target values for each technical parameter related to fat quality, storage and usage recommendations, as well as all relevant information that the bakery may need.1

Fats are used in small or large amounts in almost every single bakery product, ranging from chemically-leavened sweet goods such as cakes to yeast-leavened goods such as white pan bread, croissants, whole wheat bread and hamburger buns. This is why quality specifications established for this ingredient must be tightly controlled for optimum results at bakery.

The impact that fats have upon finished product characteristics and processing conditions is considerable. Fats perform key functions in bakery products, including:

  • Creaming (air incorporation in batter systems)
  • Tenderizing in batter cakes
  • Emulsion forming for batter making
  • Expansion lubrication of batter and dough during baking (oven spring)
  • Flavor carriers
  • Flavor improvers (margarine and butter)
  • Heat transfer or cooking medium (frying fats)
  • Shelf-life extending
  • Pan lubrication and improve dough machining
  • Nutrition  (1 gram of fat provides 9 Calories)
  • Barrier for moisture retention (mainly in cakes)


A fat  spec sheet should contain the following information (divided into sections):2,3,4

  • Product definition (e.g. cake shortening, all-purpose shortening, olive oil, butter). Animal and/or plant (vegetable) origin should be specified.
  • Comprehensive section. This section should include details on fat production/refining conditions (e.g. bleaching, solvent extraction, hydrogenation, deodorization, cold pressing) and related process flowsheet.
  • Regulatory information (e.g. compliance with 21 CFR Parts 166, 170, 182, 180)
  • Food safety information. Includes any information relevant to consumer safety such as allergenicity of dairy components (for butter), pressed soy oil, etc.
  • Kosher designation (if applicable).
  • Organic designation (if applicable). A certifying agency and a certification date or code should be provided in this section.
  • Non-GMO and clean label designations (if applicable)
  • Sampling plan for analysis. This section should describe:
    • The procedure for obtaining samples of fat for analysis (in bulk or discrete amounts)
    • Frequency of analysis (e.g., per shipment)
    • Number of samples required
    • Information as to how the samples are physically collected
  • Acceptance criteria. This section should include:2,3
    • Physical and organoleptic: solid crystalline structure, relative density, refraction index, melting point, smoke point (key for baking pans oil), fire point, viscosity of oils, taste, color and smell.
    • Analytical specifications/parameters: composition of fats and oils in shortening blends, moisture content (for butter and margarine), saponification index, free fatty acids (FFA), peroxide value, iodine value, oil stability index, fatty acid distribution (% saturated, % unsaturated, % poly unsaturated), FA composition, cholesterol content, trans FA, antioxidants.
    • Lipoxygenase and lipase activity
    • Heavy metals specifications (traces of copper, lead, arsenic, in ppm or ppb).
    • Maximum, minimum, target values and/or range of values for each technical parameter
    • Testing procedures required for supplier analyses
    • Specification of the approved methods for the analyses/test
  • Procedure when a test is out of specification. This section should describe what actions should be taken when an analysis is out of specification.
  • Dosage recommendations. Should include the amount in baker’s % to add according to type of product.
  • Recommendations regarding storage conditions. Temperature and relative humidity should be specified in this section.
  • Shipping, packaging and shelf-life information. Accurate and relevant details on how the fat, oil or shortening is handled and transported to the bakery should be provided here. The following info may also be included:
    • Shelf-life of ingredient according to recommended packaging and storage conditions.
    • Pallet configuration for shipments in bags or boxes (i.e. bags/boxes per pallet, bags per layer, gross weight per bag, pallet dimensions)


Degree of hydrogenation determines:

  • Fatty acids (FA) saturation degree: the greater the hydrogenation degree, the higher the content of saturated FA
  • Fat stability to oxidative rancidity: the greater the hydrogenation degree, the greater the stability
  • Melting point: it determines the rheology and physical state of fat at room temperature
  • Plasticity, hardness or brittleness: the greater the hydrogenation degree, the more solid the fat will be, i.e. the less fluid it will be
  • Content of trans fat


  1. Nielsen, S.S. “Introduction to Food Analysis.” Food Analysis, 5th edition, Springer International Publishing, 2017, pp. 3–15.
  2. Wassell, P. “Bakery Fats.” Fats in Food Technology, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2014, pp. 39–77.
  3. Marangoni, A., Goldstein, A., and Seetharaman, K. “Lipids: Properties and Functionality.” Bakery Products Science and Technology, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2014, pp. 223–240.
  4. Stauffer, C.E. “Bakery Product Applications.” Fats and Oils, Eagan Press Handbook Series, AACC International, Inc., 1996, pp. 61–79.