On June 17, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave notice of a Final Determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for any use in human food. The FDA Determination has a compliance date of June 18, 2018, giving the food industry three years before enforcement to remove PHOs from the human food supply, unless the agency approves a food additive petition to allow specific uses.
In recent years, fully hydrogenated oils and fats (FHOs) have been used as an alternative to replace PHOs and reduce trans fats in a variety of food applications, particularly where the fat ingredient must provide certain texture attributes, melting properties, mouth feel and food product appearance and shelf-stability. For example, commercial donut frying shortening and bakery margarines, which previously were based on PHOs, have been reformulated to dramatically reduce trans fatty acids by using various combinations of nonhydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and palm oils blended with an FHO to produce functional ingredients for these applications.
To date, there were no public monographs with definitions of FHOs to help ensure buyers that FHO ingredients meet prescribed measures for composition and purity. FHOs are individual fats and oils or mixtures of fats and oils that are hydrogenated to complete or near complete saturation and have an iodine value (IV) of no more than 4, containing very little fatty acids with trans double bonds. FDA’s Final Determination defines PHOs as fats or oils that have been hydrogenated, but not to complete or near complete saturation, and with an iodine value (IV) greater than 4 as determined by a method that is suitable for this analysis. FDA’s PHO definition, which places FHOs outside the scope of the agency’s determination, is consistent with and complements the description of FHOs as defined in a monograph, which the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has just proposed in the latest FCC Forum.
The inclusion of a definition for PHOs, and by default FHOs, addresses a concern by many in the food industry that FDA’s preliminary determination was unclear as to what the agency considered to be a PHO subject to the determination. It is important to have a definition for FHOs, measurable by an IV test as specified in the FCC FHO monograph, so they can be properly identified and their use as an important alternative ingredient in the PHO reformulation toolbox may continue.
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More about the guest blogger and the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO)
Robert L. Collette is the president and secretary of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO), a national trade association representing the refiners of edible fats and oils in the United States. The association represents approximately 90% of the edible fats and oils produced domestically that are used in baking and frying fats, cooking and salad oils, margarines, spreads, confections and toppings, and ingredients in a wide variety of foods (source: http://www.iseo.org/).
As ISEO’s president, he holds primary responsibility for formulating and advancing ISEO’s advocacy positions and acting as liaison to key government agencies. In this capacity, Bob facilitates and implements ISEO policy on issues pertaining to technical matters, the environment, transportation, occupational health and safety, energy and government regulations. Prior to joining ISEO, Bob spent the previous 23 years with the National Fisheries Institute, a national trade association representing seafood businesses. He served as the Fisheries Institute’s V.P. of Science and Technology for last nine years of his tenure and was responsible for planning and coordinating the Institute’s regulatory and technical programs. He has a Master of Science Degree in Food Science from the University of Rhode Island and is a member of several professional societies and organizations, including the American Oil Chemists Society, Association of Food and Drug Officials and the Institute of Food Technologists.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the guest author and should not be interpreted to be those of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.