The Obama administration demands food companies to remove the use of heart-clogging trans fats over the next three years by claiming it to be a threat to public health.
The move will eliminate artificial trans fats from the food supply nearly as a whole.
Consumers are not likely to notice much of a difference in their favorite foods, but according to the administration, the move will decreased coronary heart disease, preventing thousands of potential fatal heart attacks each year.
Scientists say that trans fats provide no appreciable health benefits, that they can and are only used in increasing the shelf life or flavor of a certain product. They can increase the levels of bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease, which is the most common form of death in the Unites States.
The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid.
Once a staple of the American diet — think shortening and microwave popcorn — most artificial trans fats are already gone.
The FDA says that consumption of consumer trans fats decreased by 78 percent as food companies replaced them with other kinds of oils between 2003 and 2012.
Trans fats have been an active part of the soy industry’s vernacular for decades. Plus, for the past 10 years, the industry have been working on ways to meet the food-customer needs, according to a statement from the United Soybean Board.
“The FDA’s recent announcement to phase out partially hydrogenated vegetable oils did not come as a shock to soybean farmers,” the board said.
It has been working with the industry on two replacement options for partially hydrogenated soybean oil for more than 10 years. And now, those solutions are coming to the forefront.
“THE SOY industry estimates that 2 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated soybean oil are used in food today,” said Jimmy Sneed, a soybean farmer from Hernando, Miss., and USB farmer-leader.
“We’re excited to bring solutions like high oleic and interesterified soybean oil to the market and ready to shift the discussion to innovation.”
Soybeans with high oil produce an oil that food companies can make use of for stability without the need of partial hydrogenation. Farmers currently grow high-oleic soyabeans in nine states, with more acreage being added each year.
Commodity soybeans farmers can help with the solution too. By interesterifying commodity soybean oil, processors create a hard fat which is similar to the considering of margarine, which helps meet the needs for some baking customers.
“THE U.S. food industry continues to be an important customer to soybean farmers and the entire soybean industry,” Sneed said.
“High oleic soybeans and interesterified soybean oil are solutions brought online to help food companies maintain the taste consumers prefer, while using a domestically sourced, sustainable oil.”
Some of the foods that commonly contain trans fats are pie crusts, biscuits, microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, vegetable shortenings and stick margarines.
The FDA has been considering removing the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils since late 2013.