Seeking drop-in answers for phos

Companies may find numerous alternatives for partially hydrogenated oils, but finding ones that work just as well as phos may be more difficult. The Food and Drug Administration has given food companies until June 18, 2018, to remove phos from their products after ruling in 2015 that 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 use in human food.

Finding a drop-in solution is the biggest challenge, said Roger Daniels, vice-president of research, development and innovation at Stratas Foods, Memphis, Tenn.

“The goal is to find a product that would translate from distribution, to storage, to performance in the factory or kitchen,” he said.

Stratas Foods in 2016 introduced Apex, a non-pho soybean shortening that uses Stratas’ proprietary Flex crystallization technology.

“Apex offers a new, unprecedented standard of shortening functionality without the pho, expanding the reach of non-pho, soy-based shortenings, making it a true drop-in solution, eliminating the need to alter environment or temperature processes,” Mr. Daniels said.

Maverik Oils, L.L.C., Redlands, Calif., began promoting the non-pho benefits of its oils in 2008, said Chase Newman-Brewer, president/managing partner. The company specializes in non-pho release agents, or oils that keep product from sticking to pans. He said phos performed well in this area. The rate of polymerization plays a significant factor in developing release agents that may be used in place of phos.

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is increase the cycles in the pans for our baking customers,” he said of Maverik Oils.

Mr. Newman-Brewer said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to determine whether release agents will be included in a G.M.O. labeling law, called the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard and scheduled for release in July 2018. Maverik Oils still offers non-G.M.O. oils as release agents.

“Although it may take some time for a bakery to consider some of our more clean label releases, we want to be able to have those available, and we also want to be mentioning those to the bakery, ‘Hey, just so you’re aware,’“ he said.

The National Sunflower Association, Bismarck, N.D., wanted to make suppliers and trade media aware of the benefits of using sunflower oil as a pho alternative when it hosted an event in August in Bismarck. NUSUN mid-oleic sunflower oil and HOSUN high-oleic sunflower oil offer stability, clean flavor, longer shelf life and options lower in saturated fat to bakers and snack manufacturers, according to the association. High-oleic sunflower oil is more stable than the mid-oleic version.

Sunflower oil is only 10% saturated fat. Since it is a liquid oil, sunflower oil would need to be blended with fully hydrogenated oil, palm oil or interesterified oil to gain the needed structure in baked foods.

Healthy Food Ingredients, Fargo, N.D., offers oils sourced from canola, coconut, corn, flax and sunflower that may be used in place of phos. Food companies often ask for other benefits besides just non-pho.

“We continue to receive new opportunities for healthy alternative oils in the arena of specialty and niche such as organic, non-G.M.O., (expeller-pressed) that fit a wide variety of applications,” said Jennifer Tesch, chief marketing officer for Healthy Food Ingredients. “Consumer awareness for simple, ‘made without’ continues to be at the forefront. In turn, manufacturers are looking to find alternative oils that will be a good fit for their products that meet that demand and fit the criteria consumers are seeking.”