ST. LOUIS — The Food and Drug Administration should consider how long it will take a new soybean oil to have a significant impact on the market before making any decisions on a proposed ban of artificial trans fats, said Danny Murphy, president of the St. Louis-based American Soybean Association.
Significant quantities of high-oleic soybean oil should be available by 2016, he said. High-oleic soybean oil varieties have 0 grams of trans fat and less saturated fat than conventional soybean oil. High-oleic soybean oil will allow food companies to achieve the functionality they desire for flavor stability, texture and other characteristics, he said.
The FDA believes partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) no longer belong on the list of ingredients generally recognized as safe. The agency has published a Nov. 8 Federal Register notice to that effect with the goal of removing artificial trans fats from processed foods.
“Given that the food and vegetable oil industries have already moved to greatly reduce trans fat in food products and in Americans’ diets, we do have questions about the need for FDA to take this proposed action,” said Murphy, a soybean farmer in Mississippi.
He said if the FDA were to move too quickly, food processors may be pressured to replace remaining partially hydrogenated oils with oils high in saturated fat.
“Finally, since it will take a few years to ramp up high-oleic soybean production to provide an economical alternative to food processors, we believe any final FDA determination on the matter should reflect this time frame,” Murphy said.
Partial hydrogenation brings about artificial trans fat in food products. According to the FDA, consuming trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease.
“The vast majority of soybean oil consumed is not partially hydrogenated and is free of trans fats,” Murphy said. “So consumers can be assured of the continued safety and healthfulness of soybean oil and the many food products that contain it.”
The FDA, in the Federal Register notice, said it will receive comments on the proposed artificial trans fat ban until Jan. 7, 2014. Electronic comments and scientific data and information may be sent to www.regulations.gov. Written comments and scientific data and information may be sent to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submissions should include the agency name and the docket number in the Federal Register notice.