In FDA regulations, Food labeling
With the partially hydrogenated oil FDA ruling/ban fast approaching, food manufacturers are making smart swaps to make their products healthier and increase sales.

With the partially hydrogenated oil FDA ruling/ban fast approaching, food manufacturers are making smart swaps to make their products healthier and increase sales. Image source: Flickr user Mike Mozart.

Over the past few years, partially hydrogenated oils have come under a lot of scrutiny. While they’ve been used in food products since the 1950s, mostly to preserve the shelf-life of manufactured foods, the FDA has recently decided to forbid their use.

As of June 18, 2018, food manufacturers will no longer be allowed to add partially hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans fats, to their food products. After several studies have shown that the intake of trans fats is generally not safe, as it is correlated with an increased risk of heart disease, the FDA had decided it can no longer in good conscience permit its use. The FDA is planning on only permitting the inclusion of partially hydrogenated oils in specific cases they have approved.

So, what does this mean for food manufacturers? I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about the partially hydrogenated oil FDA ruling/ban and ways you can make necessary changes to your products as soon as possible.

Partially Hydrogenated Oil FDA Ruling: Making Changes to Your Product

The FDA estimates that approximately half of the trans fat Americans consume is from partially hydrogenated oils, so it goes without saying that this new rule is going to affect many food manufacturers. These products currently can’t contain more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, but soon none will be allowed. If you are a food manufacturer who currently uses partially hydrogenated oils in your products, it’s time to start reformulating.

Here are some partially hydrogenated oil replacements that are worth considering for your products:

  • High-oleic sunflower oil
  • High-oleic canola oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil blends
  • Fractionated palm oil

Of course, when choosing a replacement for partially hydrogenated oils for your product, it is important to keep in mind that consumers are increasingly interested in buying healthy food products, as well as products that don’t have negative consequences for the environment. If these are things that concern the demographic you are trying to target, then it may be worthwhile to use the more wholesome options, like coconut or safflower oil. Remember, though, that the shelf life of these oils is shorter than partially hydrogenated oils, so you may need to adjust your expiration dates and production schedules.

It’s also important to know that not all trans fats can be removed from food, as some foods—like dairy products, meat, and some oils—naturally contain small amounts of trans fats. Naturally occurring trans fats are permitted by the FDA, but they cannot be added to food.

Advantages of the Partially Hydrogenated Oil Ban

For food manufacturers who have to reformulate their product recipes before June so they no longer contain trans fats, the process can be a bit stressful. It requires a lot of testing and retesting, which takes time and money. There are, however, some ways to take advantage of the partially hydrogenated oil ban:

  • Use it as a chance to rebrand your product: The public is well informed about the harmful effects of partially hydrogenated oils, so having them in your product could be hindering your sales anyway. Once your product is reformulated, why not take the opportunity to rebrand your product or create a marketing campaign advertising the new, healthier version? It could be an incredible way to boost sales while keeping your customers healthy.
  • Simplify and streamline the production of your product: Using partially hydrogenated oils makes manufacturing your product complicated. By swapping out lab-manufactured oils with wholesome, natural oils, creating your product becomes easier because the oils don’t have to go through a complex heating and stabilization process. This will likely cut down on production costs and perhaps even the cost of your ingredients.
  • Ditch lab analysis and use online nutrition analysis software: If your product doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils and only contains wholesome ingredients, you may be able to further cut costs by switching from food lab analysis to online nutrition analysis software in order to get your nutrition facts panels. While lab analysis typically runs upwards of $700 per analysis, online nutrition analysis software like LabelCalc costs as little as $225 per analysis. If your product is deep-fried, however, you will need to use lab analysis.  

Of course, the best thing about the partially hydrogenated oil ban is that Americans will no longer be eating a substance that has been proven to be harmful to their health. And while it will take some work for food manufacturers to change their products, it is rewarding to know that by doing so, you could be preventing heart disease and helping Americans be healthier.

LabelCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software trusted by food manufacturers. To learn more, contact us today.

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