ASA not Convinced FDA Proposed Action Needed
The Food and Drug Administration's tentative determination to rescind the generally recognized as safe status for partially-hydrogenated oil was unexpected - and the American Soybean Association has questions about the need for the agency to take this proposed action. American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy notes the soybean industry, food manufacturers and vegetable oil processors have worked to greatly reduce the amount of partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats in food products since the FDA announced plans to require labeling of trans fat content in food products back in 2003. In addition - he says seed and technology companies within the soybean industry have developed soybean varieties that are high in heart-healthy high oleic fatty acids and eliminate the need for partial hydrogenation. Murphy says these high-oleic soybean oil varieties enable food companies to get the functionality they desire for flavor stability, texture and other important characteristics while avoiding the tradeoff to higher saturated fat or trans fat levels that come with using some other oils for stability. But Murphy notes it will take a few years to ramp up high oleic soybean production to provide an economical alternative to food processors. The current expectation is that significant quantities of high oleic soybean oil will be available in the marketplace by 2016. The American Soybean Association believes any final FDA determination on the matter should reflect this timeframe - otherwise food processors may be pressured to replace remaining partially hydrogenated oils with those high in saturated fat such as palm or coconut oils.
Murphy points out that the vast majority of soybean oil consumed is not partially hydrogenated and is free of trans fats. He says consumers can be assured of the continued safety and healthfulness of soybean oil and the many food products that contain it. It's also important to remember - Murphy says - that soybean oil is a very healthy oil that is high in poly-unsaturated fats and has high levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
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