KANSAS CITY — The Food and Drug Administration has given the food industry until June 18, 2018, to remove partially hydrogenated oils (phos) from their products. The F.D.A. in the June 17, 2015, issue of the Federal Register said it had made a final determination that there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that phos, which are the primary dietary source of industrially produced trans fatty acids, are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for any use in human food.
Partially hydrogenated oils can be based on commodity oils and in many cases are more economical than alternatives, which often use more expensive oil blends. Companies may seek ways to manage costs, such as through the functionality of emulsifiers and the potential shelf life benefits of certain oils.
“These products have been around for a very long time,” Jim Doucet, manager of emulsifier technology for Corbion, said about phos March 1 in a presentation at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2016 in Chicago. “It’s almost been, so to speak, cruise control because it’s been there. We just accepted them. They are there. Now, we take out the pho — huge issue.”
A functional ingredient, such as an emulsifier or a hydrocolloid, might replace the functionality of phos, such as crystallization and structure, in applications, said John Neddersen, senior application scientist, emulsifiers/fats and oils, DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, Kas.
“For example, pho oils have very good crystallization properties,” he said “Certain emulsifiers, such as monoglycerides, are very efficient fat crystallizers at a very low usage level when compared to pho oils. Pho oils are also very good for forming structure in sweet baked goods. Hydrocolloids, such as CMC (carboxymethyl cellulose), can add structure to baked goods at a fraction of the usage level of pho oils.”
While emulsifiers may contain phos, DuPont Nutrition & Health offers both non-hydrogenated and fully-hydrogenated emulsifiers, he said.
“Many companies combine the removal of phos with other cost-savings initiatives,” Mr. Neddersen said. “The higher cost of the fat blend is offset by a reduced amount of fat. Emulsifiers provide the functionality needed to reduce the fat level.”
Corbion last year launched its Ensemble line of non-pho emulsifiers, which Mr. Doucet spoke about in his March 1 presentation. Taking phos out of emulsifiers often means using oil blends, which may be more expensive, he said. Corbion, however, has found a reduced dosage may offset the cost increases.
“For reasons not fully understood, we’re seeing that the monoglycerides reformulated by proprietary blending are performing as good or better in really all cases that we looked at when we reduced the dosage by 20%,” Mr. Doucet said.
Although they may cost more than phos, liquid oils with higher oxidative stability such as high-oleic canola, high-oleic sunflower and high-oleic soybean may provide benefits in longer shelf life and cleaner flavors, said Lynne Morehart, senior principal scientist for oils and shortenings for Cargill, Minneapolis. The high-oleic oils may improve the shelf life of a finished product by two or three days or perhaps even two or three weeks, thus saving on costs associated with waste, she said. If the high-oleic oils have cleaner flavors, companies may save on costs because they do not need to use flavor maskers.
Ms. Morehart added if companies are not too concerned about saturated fat content, they may use commodity palm oil in place of phos when solid fats are needed. Palm oil is more comparable in price to phos than some other oils.
“Oftentimes the alternatives can have more costs, but not all the time,” Ms. Morehart said.
Monica Zelaya-Brown, customer innovation manager, AAK USA, Inc., Edison, N.J., said extended shelf life may equate to cost-savings.
“For example, if an application is highly susceptible to oxidation and has no supporting storage conditions, we may recommend using a custom blend with the right amount of trait-enhanced oils to rise up to the challenge,” she said.
She added formulators should know they have many options when choosing pho alternatives.
“Because AAK’s solutions are not tied to a particular raw material, our pho-free shortening solutions are not limited to only one option,” Ms. Zelaya-Brown said. “Made from different components, our pho-free solutions include unique fractions of palm and/or palm kernel or coconut blends, soft oils such as canola or high-oleic sunflower/canola oils, and other specialized components. Our recommendations always seek to maximize functionality and cost efficiencies.”
In confectionery, AAK now offers Confao, a non-hydrogenated, zero trans fats brand of high performance filling fats. It provides the desired texture, from creamy and caramel-like to the melt-a-way sensation of a decadent truffle, for non-hydrogenated confectionery fillings, according to the company.
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, also provides a range of pho alternatives.
“ADM continues to produce and supply non-pho alternatives by the use of commodity oils trait-enhanced oils such as high-oleic soybean oil and high-oleic canola oil,” said Tom Tiffany, senior technical sales manager for ADM Oils. “Naturally stable oils such as cottonseed oil, mid-oleic sunflower oil and corn oil are also well-suited for applications where solids are not needed. For applications in which solids are needed, enzymatic interesterification of soybean oil with fully hydrogenated soybean oil produces a functional shortening for many applications. Palm oil and palm oil blends with liquid oils also are becoming more prevalent as replacements for phos in a variety of applications where solid fat is needed.”
Several companies have web sites focused on pho alternatives. Bunge North America, St. Louis, offers www.transfatsolutions.com where companies may find possible pho alternatives based on target application, product form, key ingredient and saturate content. The company offers pho replacers that eliminate trans fat, have lower saturated fat content, and provide a balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Bunge has developed a patented trans-free bakery shortening without the hydrogenation processed. The company offers saturate-sparing fats that use a new technology that combines restructuring of fatty acids and added fiber.
Loders Croklaan, Channahon, Ill., has a go-no-pho.com web site. The company has developed more than 200 pho-free free systems that offer functionality across a range of applications leveraging the versatility of palm oil.