Formulating for Trans Fats

April 18, 2007
Food Processing interviews Archer Daniels Midland Co. about its NovaLipid line of zero trans-fat oils.

It's no secret. Food processors are well aware the FDA requires all food manufacturers to label the trans fat content on a product's nutrition label. Ingredient supplier Archer Daniels Midland Co. ( offers its NovaLipid Zero/Low Trans-Fat oil line as a solution.

Tom Tiffany, manager of food oils applications and technical services in research and development, describes the company's offerings that are designed to help food processors formulate products without trans fats.

ADM started developing low- and zero-trans fat solutions several years ago and invested in developing new techniques in oil modification and formulating blends to provide a solution for food manufacturers.

The challenge in doing so, according to Tiffany, occurs with the oxygenation of the ingredient. "Bakery shortening, for example was 25 to 40 percent trans fat," he explains. "When you remove that or decrease it and replace the saturated fat with mono- or poly-unsaturated fat, the formulation now has different properties. Trans fats typically melt between 30ºC and 40ºC, and that is not the case when you replace it."

ADM's NovaLipid formulations are said to provide a functional and stable low- or zero-trans fat solution to shortening, margarine, confection and other prepared foods. The line comprises five approaches to reach zero-trans fat status.

The first approach, enzyme interesterification, uses enzymes instead of chemicals to reduce trans fats. In the process, fully hydrogenated soy bean oil is converted to mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. The blend, which now has a high melting point, is passed through an enzyme process where the fatty acids are "rearranged" on the ingredient's glycerol makeup. This lowers the melting behavior of the fat.

ADM's NovaLipid line also comprises blends for both solid fats and for low linoleic acids. Blends for solid fats include fully hydrogenated fat and soybean oil for functionality or a blend of palm oil and soybean oil to mimic melting behavior. Blends for low-linoleic acids, on the other hand, are used to make oils more stable. That is achieved with partially hydrogenated blends or corn and soybean oil and top seed and canola oil blends that increase stability at room temperature but lower saturates.

The company also is providing trans-free solutions with trait-enhanced seeds. Here, the oil seed industry is developing oil seeds that contain lower levels of poly saturations.

"The trans fat ruling has had a significant effect on the industry. Food Processors are used to using an array of functionalities, including cream and margarine, that all use partial hydrogenation and are price competitive," Tiffany explains. "Now, when fatty acids are coming to the top, we are responding with items that change it."

As for the future, Tiffany says ADM's enzyme interesterification process is only scratching the surface, especially when it comes to partially hydrogenated oil. "We can partially hydrogenate soybean oil to lower fatty acids and trans fats, but unfortunately the industry attacks the process. Partial hydrogenation means 'bad' fat to the industry," he says. "We think we can make it better by offering a low- to zero-trans fat partially hydrogenated soy or other oil. That process is in the future."

Another thing to anticipate from the company is a way to also reduce the number of saturates in a final product. "As we go down in trans fats per servings, saturates go up. The goal is to lower trans fats and give higher poly- or mono-saturated fats -- fatty acids that are healthier," Tiffany says.

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