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U.S. FDA decision on partially hydrogenated oils shifts market


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO’s) are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, for use in any human food. The ruling dictates that food companies have until 2018 to remove industrial trans fats from their formulations. According to the New York Times, the FDA estimates that “the action will cost about $6 billion to put into effect but will save about $140 billion over 20 years in health care and other costs.” Partially hydrogenated oils, which are created by treating liquid oil with hydrogen gas to make a solid, have been a long-time staple of food manufacturers in the U.S. While many brands have already begun the transition away from PHO’s and trans fats, the Washington Post says “the substance lingers in an array of processed foods, from packaged cookies to ready-made frostings.” The industry has been faced with the difficult question of how to replace these ingredients, which have been so prevalent for decades, without losing functionality. According to Nutritional Outlook, “the most attractive substitute may actually be palm oil. Its combination of formulation flexibility, abundant supply, and cost efficiency put palm oil at the front of the pack. The big challenge is ensuring it’s produced sustainably.”

CandyIndustry.com mentions that for the confectionary industry, which has been a very large user of PHO’s, palm oil is an economically viable option that “has a better yield per hectare than other vegetable oils like rapeseed or soybean oil.”

Non-hydrogenated palm oil, palm kernel oil, and their various fractions (in liquid and solid forms) offer natural, high-performing and shelfstable alternatives to PHO’s for a variety of applications. Yet while palm oil’s functionality offers solutions to various reformulation problems, the industry is keenly aware of the importance of sourcing sustainable oil. U.S. consumers continue to grow more and more concerned about the environmental effects of standard palm oil production practices worldwide, and as a result, brands seeking to replace their trans fats are considering not only the functional performance but also the social and environmental impacts of the alternative fat they choose.

SOURCES: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm#1 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/health/fdagives-food-industry-three-years-eliminate-trans-fats. html?_r=0 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/healthscience/fda-moves-to-ban-trans-fat-from-us-foodsupply/2015/06/16/f8fc8f18-1084-11e5-972649d6fa26a8c6_story.html http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/food-beverage/ what-makes-palm-oil-top-replacer-partiallyhydrogenated-oils http://www.candyindustry.com/ articles/87030-fats-oils-trends-alternative-fats