Removing trans fats (Part 2): The supplier view


28 Mar 2018 --- The phasing out of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) has been an ongoing process over recent years with many of the global players putting forward alternative portfolios well ahead of time. As the deadline edges closer – June 18, 2018 – manufacturers must ensure that their products no longer contain PHOs for uses that have been otherwise authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And it’s this shift away from trans fat, as well as other ingredients like sugar and even salt, that is driving innovation across food and drink categories.

Major ingredients players like Corbion, Cargill, IOI Loders Croklaan, ADM Oils & Fats and a whole host of others continue to aid the switch to non-PHO products as the sector focuses on the multiple workarounds there are to get to a PHO-free stage.

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Rocco Renaldi, Secretary-General of the International Food and Beverage Alliance, who have been voluntarily reformulating their products to remove PHOs over many years. "It is one of the commitments we made to the WHO in 2008 to reduce the key ingredients of public health concern – fats, sugar and salt," he says.

“The challenge we face when reformulating or developing new products to eliminate or reduce industrially produced trans fat is to do so without increasing the level of saturated fats – while still maintaining the same texture, taste, shelf-stability and freshness. This has been achieved by increasing the use of healthier fats, such as mono- or poly-unsaturated fatty acids.” 

“These reformulation and innovation efforts are supported by our commitment to provide consumers with clear, fact-based nutrition information and product labeling to help consumers identify the trans fat content of our products.” 

Consumer education is also a key component of any reformulation strategy and the association is committed to working with governments and the public health community to help raise consumer awareness of the risks of industrially produced trans fats, according to Renaldi.

In 2016, IFBA adopted a worldwide commitment to phase out industrially produced trans fats in their products by the end of 2018. “We are confident we will meet this goal,” he claims. “As more and more products have become free of trans fats, we can assume that consumers have lowered their expectations of finding trans fats in food products, and therefore, we do not expect there will be an impact on their buying or eating habits. We anticipate it could be different in low- and middle-income countries where progress has been slower.”

Labeling regulations could lead companies to voluntarily change their product formulations to reduce or eliminate industrially produced trans fat as they did in the USA in 2006 when the FDA required manufacturers to declare the amount of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label and consumers started avoiding products with trans fats. 

IFBA is committed to providing consumers with clear, fact-based nutrition information to enable them to make informed choices about the foods and beverages they consume, says Renaldi.  In 2010, IFBA adopted a global approach to nutrition labeling. “Today, 92.9 percent of our members’ products worldwide display calories front-of-pack, 95.6 percent of products display key nutrients, including trans fat, on back-of-pack or side panel, and 93.9 percent display GDAs.”

“We do agree with the WHO that removing industrially produced trans fat from the food supply is a public health priority and an effective intervention for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving diet. We have demonstrated our success in removing industrially produced trans fat from our products and are committed to sharing encouraging others in the food industry, particularly SMEs, to join us in this effort,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Also speaking with FoodIngredientsFirst, Margaret Walsh, Senior Scientist at Corbion says that in order to meet the deadline and ensure product success, it is important to consider the type of application as well as the desired flavor, texture, quality and consistency. “All of these things can change when modifying product formulations, making it difficult for manufacturers to meet these deadlines while ensuring product success. Also, bakery manufacturers must consider how their non-PHO fat/oil system of choice could impact ease of handling/functionality, labeling and nutritional requirements, as well as the overall cost and shelf-life stability. To avoid major operational disruptions throughout production and distribution, bakers should work closely with their suppliers to address these challenges,” she says.

Corbion believes they have always been at the forefront of the non-PHO revolution and began taking steps to develop and test non-PHO solutions long before the mandate was announced.

“As a result, we were able to launch our Ensemble non-PHO emulsifier solutions around the same time as the announcement. Shortly after, we launched SweetPro. (Additionally, as of December 2016, all of our other solutions are free from PHOs.) These two unique emulsifier solutions are specially designed to allow bakery manufacturers to remove PHOs while ensuring the quality, taste, texture and consistency of their products,” explains Walsh.

“With similar handling properties and the same functionality as PHOs, our non-PHO emulsifier solutions allow bakers to select the non-PHO fats or oils that work best for their applications. Our non-PHO emulsifiers also help boost tolerance against numerous production and distribution variables, allowing bakers to deliver the same tastes and textures consumers expect with less hassle and waste. This means they can reformulate their applications with minimal disruption, maintain product quality and optimize output,” she notes.

According to Walsh, it can be difficult to remove PHOs from baked goods and sweet baked goods due to the impact that PHOs have on product taste, texture, freshness and structure. In addition to ensuring the overall quality and consistency of their products, bakery manufacturers must consider how ease of handling and shelf-life stability can change when converting to non-PHO formulations. “Our Ensemble and SweetPro emulsifier solutions are specially designed to help bakery manufacturers remove PHOs while ensuring product success,” she adds.

“We’re already starting to see a shift in the industry with other regulations, such as labeling requirements for added sugars. With today’s health-conscious consumers, we’ll continue to see a decrease in trans fat consumption as well as an increase in regulations and requirements,” Walsh says.


You can read Part 1 of this report here.


By Elizabeth Green

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