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Cutting Out PHOs and Trans Fat

After more than 18 months since its preliminary determination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its final determination: Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human food. PHOs are the primary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, a nutrient that has been shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and may even lower HDL (good) cholesterol, both of which can increase the risk for coronary heart disease and stroke. The FDA expects this action to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease and fatal heart attacks.

The FDA has set a three-year compliance period to allow food companies to either reformulate products without PHOs or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs. Until then, it is important to do your homework when selecting food products, to help minimize trans fat intake. Trans fats are typically found in fried foods, baked goods, packaged snack foods, stick margarines and shortenings. You can determine the amount of trans fats in a particular food by looking at the Nutrition Facts panel, but that may not tell the whole story. Trans fat can still be present in foods that claim to have “0 grams of trans fat,” because current regulations allow products with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to claim 0 grams. Less than 0.5 grams may not seem like much, but considering the FDA’s recent ban, it’s a good idea to keep trans fat intake as low as possible. Turn to the ingredients list of a food product to spot these “hidden” trans fats. Read through the list and look for “partially hydrogenated oils.” If it’s in the list, then the product contains trans fat, no matter what the nutrition label says. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, from greatest to least, which means that the higher “partially hydrogenated oils” is on the list, the more trans fat a product contains.

While many foodservice operations and food manufacturers have already removed PHOs from their products, there are plenty who have yet to begin the process. Omega-9 Canola Oil has zero trans fat and the lowest level of saturated fat of any oil on the market, making it ideal for food companies looking to improve the nutrition profile of their product without compromising quality, functionality or performance. For more information about Omega-9 Oils, and to learn how your business can make the switch today, contact Dow AgroSciences.