KANSAS CITY — The food industry has hammered away at phasing out partially hydrogenated oils (phos) but has yet to achieve 100% removal, which should become the law in 2018.
Applications for icings and donuts remain troublesome. Also, when evaluating pho alternatives, companies may wish to analyze how the alternative oils affect saturated fat levels in a product and whether they may be used in non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. items.
The Food and Drug Administration in the June 17, 2015, issue of the Federal Register said it had determined there no longer is a consensus among qualified experts that phos, which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids, are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for any use in human food. The F.D.A. said the food industry has until June 18, 2018, to remove phos from their products.
Icing and donut applications are the most challenging to develop a seamless replacement for phos, said Roger Daniels, vice-president of research, development and innovation at Stratas Foods, Memphis, Tenn. The company recently introduced Apex, a non-pho soybean shortening and a fourth-generation product, he said. Research has shown that Apex offers a cleaner flavor, a longer fry life and more stability than other pho alternatives, according to Stratas.
“Apex is a really unique product,” Mr. Daniels said. “The industry has offered formulaic changes to provide non-pho options, but the Flex processing technology that was designed in our labs at Stratas together with an enhanced and more stable fatty acid platform is unprecedented and potentially a game-changer.”
Bunge recommends application-specific shortenings for removing phos, said Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing.
“For example, we have algae butter in our new product pipeline that delivers great texture and performance for icings without hydrogenation and up to 40% less saturated fat than palm oil shortenings,” he said. “We also have a shortening that was developed specifically for very cold pie dough that uses our unique enzymatic process to deliver a solution that is trans fat-free and without partial hydrogenation.”
Cargill, Minneapolis, introduced its Regal line of bakery shortenings, which are all non-pho, last October at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas. The line features icing shortening, donut fry shortening, puff pastry shortening, cake and icing shortening, and all-purpose shortening.
Cargill ceased production of phos in 2015, said John Satumba, Ph.D., food ingredients and analytical chemistry director, Cargill global edible oil solutions, R.&D.
“We were very proactive early on in getting the majority of our customers out of phos,” he said.
Phos historically offered customized functionality and were shelf stable, he said.
“You could customize and design fat systems that worked for your particular application,” Dr. Satumba said. “So there were a myriad of benefits that came from phos.”
He said key considerations when moving away from phos include migration of the oil, flavor, flavor release (melting profile), crystallization, unit operations (line speed), plasticity, shelf life (bulk storage, product), labeling, cost, nutrition and brand.
Alternatives include tropical oils (palm, coconut, palm kernel), fractions of tropical oils, hydrogenated oils, high-stability oils, oil blends, interesterified oils, emulsifiers and animal fat.
Baked foods are difficult to reformulate, said James S. Jones, Ph.D., vice-president of customer innovation for AAK, which has a U.S. office in Edison, N.J. Since the fat performs as a structuring, flavoring and texturizing agent, the fat controls certain eating characteristics and the texture of the end product.
“Cakes and frostings can benefit from a well-formulated emulsified or icing shortening, which features palm and palm kernel components as well as emulsifiers and soft oils as needed to provide quality, manufacturing standardization, and reduction of saturated levels,” Dr. Jones said. “In items such as puff pastries, Danishes and biscuits, where shortenings play a critical role in the lamination/sheeting process, the proper shortening choice will lend good lift during the baking process.
“In pie crusts, cookies and scones, proper spread, shape, flakiness and softness will be imparted by AAK’s line of cubed and flaked shortenings featuring palm oleins, stearins and oils.”
To replace phos in frying or spraying applications, formulators may use naturally stable oils such as cottonseed oil, mid-oleic sunflower oil and corn oil while high-oleic soybean oil and high-oleic canola oil also work well, said Tom Tiffany, senior technical sales manager for ADM Oils.
“If a solids profile is needed, options include palm oil, palm oil blends with liquid oils or interesterified soy-based options and in certain applications a blend of liquid oils with fully hydrogenated oils work,” he said.