Trans Fats Inspire Fear and Loathing

With the labeling deadline approaching and consumers becoming wary, processors search for substitutes for the functionality of trans fatty acids.

By Kantha Shelke, Ingredients Editor

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A new soybean oil called Asoyia (, produced from 1 percent linolenic soybeans, provides a frying alternative with reduced saturated fat and no trans fats. Asoyia LLC, Winfield, Iowa, is owned by 25 growers of the linolenic soybeans. Cargill processes the soybeans into oil for shipment.

Nutrium Low Lin is yet another trans fat solution, the result of collaboration between Bunge Foods, St. Louis, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, a DuPont subsidiary. Pioneer developed the proprietary soybean variety 93M20, which produces oil with less than 3 percent linolenic acid and therefore does not require hydrogenation for stability and shelf life.

Another trans fat solution from plant breeding is the Trisun series of identity-preserved, high-oleic sunflower seed from Humko Oil Products, a division of ACH Food Cos. Inc., (, Memphis, Tenn. The resulting oils are rich in oleic acid (80 percent), low in saturated fat and do not need hydrogenation or deodorization for commercial applications. On the finished product label the ingredient shows up as "sunflower oil." The clarity and neutral flavor of the oil allows its use as coating for cereals and dried fruit to prevent moisture loss and enhance shelf life.

  • Molecularly rearranged solutions

    Enzymatic interesterification rearranges fatty acids in the triglyceride molecule through either chemical or enzyme catalysis. The latter is more efficient in bringing about partial hydrogenation, controlling functionality and melting characteristics without creating trans fats. The enzymatic process has milder processing conditions and produces more natural fats than traditional hydrogenation by preserving the C-2 position and rearranging only the C-1 and C-3 positions of the fat molecule.

    In addition to being cost-effective and functionally viable, enzymatic interesterification technology is more environmental friendly than chemical means.

    Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., worked with immobilized lipase enzyme (Lipozyme TLIM) interesterification technology from Novozymes AS (, Franklinton, N.C., to produce NovaLipid. ADM is advancing the functional properties of palm oil by solidifying it through enzyme interesterification (instead of hydrogenation) and producing a wide and tailored range of zero or low trans fats products for products such as ice cream, margarines, coffee whitener, bakery fillings, and candy coatings.

    "Interesterification is valuable to oil producers for producing solid fats with less trans and saturated fats,” says Ernesto Hernandez, head of the fats and oils processing program at Texas A&M University (, College Station, Tex. NovaLipid has FDA's approval to be described as "interesterified" instead of as "hydrogenated."

    Interesterification is allowing margarine producers to make the shift from hydrogenation. But they also are experimenting with different oils and processes to create viable healthful product in a particularly price-sensitive category. The reformulation involves physical blending oils to soften hard fats to create the proper consistency, or enzymatic interesterification where canola oil provides the softening and plasticizing components to the harder palm or palm kernel oil as in the case of Canadian margarines.
  • Trans fat functionality from other ingredients

    Instead of manipulating fats, fat-substitution technologies have opportunities, especially in food categories that rely on trans fats for creaminess, whipping, emulsion and coating functionality. Food science has created alternatives to provide the desired mouthfeel without harming our cardiovascular systems.

    FiberGel Technologies Inc., Mundelein, Ill., offers Z-Trim, a corn bran-based, zero-calorie fat replacement that can duplicate the functionality of trans fats in food products such as cookies, cakes, pies, brownies and commercially produced dressings, dips, sauces and mayonnaise.

    Another fat replacer for baked products is rice-based CNP Fat Replacer, discovered serendipitously by California Natural Products (, Lathrop, Calif., during a search for fat replacement in ice cream applications. "The all-natural rice syrup solid acts like solid fat and helps create the texture associated with shortening in baked products,” says John Ashby, general manager-ingredients. "The ingredient relies on the granulation of rice starch to mimic the slippery, creamy mouthfeel of fat globules, and it duplicates the organoleptic properties of solid fats in ice cream and shortening in baked products." CNP Fat Replacer may be incorporated into a wide variety of baked products exactly like solid fat and with a simply clean label declaration of "rice syrup solids."
  • Advanced nutritional solutions

    "The tremendous work under way to reformulate and repackage manufactured foods can be turned into a positive for consumers and brands by repositioning food products as being heart-healthy,” says Ian Lucas, vice president of marketing and new product development at Ocean Nutrition, (, a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, processor of marine-based food ingredients. Not only is the removal of bad fats good for the heart, he says, but the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids can provide added benefits.

    Canola oil provided the solution for removal of trans fats for all these products. Photo courtesy of Canola Council of Canada.
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