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Innovative Solutions for PHO Alternatives

Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and trans fats have been making their way out of the food system for almost two decades now. In the early 1990s, initial reports about their potential negative health impact prompted a few red flags, and then the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2003 that manufacturers needed to add trans fats to the Nutrition Facts Panel by 2006. The FDA’s most recent determination that PHOs (a major source of trans fat) are no longer deemed Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in human food and thus must be removed from food products has renewed efforts and accelerated innovations by manufacturers and ingredient suppliers to find a suitable substitute for PHOs in their products.

While major progress in removing trans fats from the food supply has been made over the years, one category in particular remains a reformulation challenge. Regarding the removal of PHOs from food products, Dave Dzisiak, commercial leader for grains and oils for Dow AgroSciences in North America, says, “The bulk of what’s left to do is mostly in the baking side.

Baked goods require more solid fat for structural purposes, and thus liquid oil alone cannot serve as a simple drop-in solution. But there is hope, as several creative solutions and technologies are now available. Liquid oils can be blended with palm oil or enzymatically interesterified oils to achieve the same end results. Interesterified oils, such as those offered by Bunge, also are an interesting prospect, with enzymes rearranging fatty acids in the fat molecules of solid and liquid oils to achieve increased functionality and reduced saturated fat content without creating a trans fat in the process.

The uniquely high monounsaturated fat and zero trans fat content of Omega-9 Canola Oil lends to the oil’s natural stability, making the oil and related shortening systems great options for manufacturers seeking to remove PHOs from food products. The oil profile also eliminates the need for antioxidants and stability additives, such as tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), leading to a cleaner label. Furthermore, Omega-9 Oils can provide equal or longer shelf life to products containing traditional, high saturated fat shortenings.

We recognize you’re up against a challenge, and we’re here to help. Contact us today to partner with the Omega-9 Solutions Team to develop a custom application for your formulation needs.