Phos, coffee creamer
Saturated fat plays a role in bringing functionality to non-dairy creamer and other products.

Saturated fat’s functionality

Although not about to be banned, saturated fat’s presence in products may be a negative as well. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends people consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fat.

Yet saturated fat serves a purpose.

“Saturated fat plays a key role in delivering functionality for certain products,” Dr. Satumba said. “Say, for example a non-dairy coffee creamer. You need those solids to get the mouthfeel, the body we all enjoy in non-dairy creamers.”

When working with frostings and fillings, shortening systems need to provide enough structure to hold critical volume achieved during aerations, Dr. Jones said.

“If we look at only solid fractions, we may increase saturated fat levels to an undesired level and may not be able to offer a wide variety of melting ranges,” he said. “Therefore, we advise blending both solid fractions and soft oils to deliver on structure, as well as to keep the total saturated fat levels low.”

Bunge offers a specialty shortening, UltraBlends All Purpose, that allows food makers to remove phos and reduce saturated fats in such applications as pie crusts, cookies, crackers and rolled doughs while maintaining the texture and taste consumers expect, Mr. Stavro said. UltraBlends All Purpose uses a combination of oils to achieve up to 50% less saturated fat than a shortening made exclusively with palm oil, he said.

Besides being a pho alternative, new high-oleic soybean oil on the market offers a lower saturated fat profile than conventional soybean oil as well as a neutral flavor profile and three times the amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) as compared to conventional soybean oil. The MUFAs help reduce L.D.L. “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood when substituted for saturated fats, according to Qualisoy, an independent, third-party collaboration among the soybean industry.

Availability of the high-oleic soybean oil should reach 1 billion lbs in 2018 with a goal of 9.3 billion lbs available by 2024.

“High-oleic soybean oil continues to show promise as a pho replacement for frying and spray oil applications,” Mr. Tiffany said. “Interesterification of high-oleic soybean oil with fully hydrogenated soybean oil also shows promise for a variety of shortening applications.”

Going non-G.M.O.

Some pho alternatives are also non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O.

Whole Harvest, a subsidiary of Bunge North America, will expand its non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. oil capabilities by adding facilities in Modesto, Calif., and Oakville, Ont. The two facilities will allow Whole Harvest to offer more soybean and canola oils verified by the Non-GMO Project to food service operators in the United States and Canada. Whole Harvest already offers Non-GMO Project verified oils produced at its Warsaw, N.C., facility.

Maverik Oils, Redlands, Calif., has years of experience working with pho alternatives since California in 2008 passed legislation that partially banned phos in the state. Within its ingredients portfolio, Maverik Oils offers non-G.M.O. options in soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil and cottonseed oil as well as non-G.M.O. lecithin.

AAK offers non-G.M.O. vegetable oil systems, including palm oil, and coconut oil and more recently soybean oil that is Non-GMO Project verified and identity preserved.

Cargill offers non-G.M.O. and organic varieties of both sunflower oil and soybean oil as well as non-G.M.O. varieties of canola oil.

Palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, mid-oleic sunflower oil and peanut oil are all derived from non-G.M.O. sources, Mr. Tiffany said.

“Today, programs are in place to provide non-G.M.O. soybean oil, which can be used alone or in blends with palm oil to produce non-G.M.O. shortenings with varying degrees of solid fat content,” he said.