More reason for reduction in shortenings

by Jeff Gelski
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Trans fat claims count as nutrient content claims, according to recent warning letters about product labeling sent out by the Food and Drug Administration. Thus, saturated fat content may bring along the potential of mislabeling, with shortenings being no exception. Fortunately, ingredient suppliers are not in short supply in offering ways to reduce the amount of both trans fat and saturated fat in shortenings.

In one warning letter, the F.D.A. said Mrs. Smith’s Classic Coconut Custard Pie is misbranded. It bears the phrase “0g TRANS FAT PER SERVING” on the principal display panel of the product label, but it does not have a disclosure statement that refers the consumer to nutrition information for total fat (17 grams), saturated fat (9 grams) and cholesterol (65 mg) per serving, according to the F.D.A. A food that bears a nutrition content claim such as 0 grams trans fat per serving must bear a disclosure statement if it contains more than 13 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, or 60 mg of cholesterol per labeled serving.

Another warning letter involved Organic All Vegetable Shortening. It had the claim “cholesterol free” and “naturally cholesterol free,” but the F.D.A. said it did not qualify for the claims because the product contains more than 13 grams of total fat per 50 grams of product and it contains 6 grams of saturated fat per 1 tablespoon, which exceeds the limit of 2 grams or less of saturated fat.

For another reason to reduce both kinds of fats in shortenings, the American Heart Association, Dallas, recommends consumers limit consumption of saturated fat to less than 7% of daily calories and trans fats to less than 1% of daily calories.

Cargill, Minneapolis, recently launched a new oils and shortenings knowledge center at The company last year introduced Clear Valley low-saturate canola oil, a high-stability canola oil with 4% to 4.5% saturated fat, or 25% less than the saturated fat in conventional canola oil.

Shortenings in the EsSence line from AarhusKarlshamn USA Inc., Port Newark, N.J., are free of trans fat, non-hydrogenated and low in saturated fat. They are based on a blend of a liquid oil of a customer’s choice and a proprietary hardstock derived from palm and palm kernel oils. Canola, soybean, sunflower or safflower oils may be used in the blend.

Bunge North America, St. Louis, takes three approaches to reducing both saturated fat and trans fat.

“At Bunge Oils, our approaches for reducing saturated fats in our shortening and oils ingredients is via novel hydrogenation, proprietary blending and the use of next generation oils,” said Roger Daniels, director, R.&D. for Bunge North America.

For its novel hydrogenation, Bunge has developed and patented a means of conditioning catalysts to minimize build up of trans fats and to make the base oil more shelf stable, Mr. Daniels said. The oil blends often involve palm oil and other more liquid oils such as soybean oil and canola oil. Two next generation oils, low-linolenic soybean oil and high-oleic canola oil, are already on the commercial market. High-oleic soybean oil continues its progression through the commercial approval process.

Oils and shortenings in the NovaLipid product line from Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., have 0 grams of trans fat per serving. The line includes naturally stable oils and fats, trait-enhanced oils and fats, margarines and shortenings, and custom blends.

Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, develops its Omega-9 Oils from its Nexera canola and sunflower seeds. Although they are liquid oils, Dow AgroSciences works on trans-fat-free, low-saturate shortening systems that include fat more friendly to baked foods structure such as palmitic acid. Adding Omega-9 Oils to the blends may reduce saturated fat 25% to 50%.

John D. Keller, food applications leader for Dow AgroSciences, included shortenings in a presentation last year about reducing saturated fats and trans fats in commercial foods. The presentation showed how combining Omega-9 canola oil with cottonseed oil may produce shortening that is less than 20% saturated fat while being 59% monounsaturated (Omega-9).

Caravan Ingredients, Lenexa, Kas., markets Trancendim, a product line that offers a variety of ways to make products with 0 grams of trans fat and a significant reduction in saturated fat without a sacrifice in taste, mouthfeel or flavor release. Trancendim works in such applications as cakes, cookies, donuts, Danish, icing, frying, puff pastries and laminated products.

A meta-analysis published on-line Jan. 13 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gave a less negative view of saturated fats. It summarized evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease in 21 epidemiologic studies. The meta-analysis found that during 5 to 23 years of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, 11,006 developed coronary heart disease or stroke, but intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease.

The researchers involved were from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, Calif., and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

The opinion of the authors of the meta-analysis was published on-line Jan. 20 in the same publication: “Clinical studies have not yielded consistent evidence for adverse effects of saturated fat on CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors other than L.D.L. cholesterol, although reduced insulin sensitivity and increased inflammation have been reported in animal and cellular studies.

“Thus, given the changing landscape of CVD risk factors and the increasing importance of the atherogenic dyslipidemia associated with obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, the relative effect of dietary saturated fat on CVD risk requires reevaluation.”

While trans fats reduce H.D.L or “good” cholesterol and increase L.D.L. or “bad” cholesterol, saturated fats increase both H.D.L. and L.D.L. Loders Croklaan North America, Channahon, Ill., uses scientific studies to promote the possibility that saturated fats thus may have little to no effect on cardiovascular problems. The company offers products derived from palm oil, which is 50% saturated fat.

Still, Loders Croklaan also offers SansTrans RS39 designed for customers wanting to reduce saturated fat. The shortening, a blend of palm oil fractions and canola oil, has 30% less saturated fat than palm oil and offers the same performance and stability, according to Loders Croklaan.

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