The Grocery Manufacturers Association on Aug. 5 said it has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to approve specific low-level uses of partially hydrogenated oils in food products. The G.M.A. gave the examples of phos being used as color and flavor carriers and as a way to deliver texture characteristics that other oils cannot provide, such as flakiness in dough.
The F.D.A. in the June 17 issue of the Federal Register said there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils (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 food companies must remove phos from their products no later than June 18, 2018.
The F.D.A. said any interested party may seek food additive approval for one or more specific uses of phos by providing data demonstrating a reasonable certainty of no harm of the proposed use or uses.
“Our food additive petition shows that the presence of trans fat from the proposed low-level uses of phos is as safe as the naturally occurring trans fat present in the normal diet,” said Leon Bruner, Ph.D., chief science officer for the Washington-based G.M.A. “It’s important to know that food and beverage companies have already voluntarily lowered the amount of trans fat added to food products by more than 86% and will continue lowering pho use to levels similar to naturally occurring trans fat found in the diet.”
The petition seeks approval for limited uses of phos as:
• Anti-caking, anti-dusting and free flow agents,
• dough strengtheners,
• emulsifiers; as formulation aids,
• humectants to help retain moisture,
• lubricants and release agents, either alone or in combination with other components,
• processing aids or component solvents and vehicles for fat soluble ingredients, including coloring agents, flavors, flavor enhancers and vitamins,
• stabilizers or thickeners,
• surface-active ingredients,
• surface-finishing agents,
• texturizers (tenderness and moisture retention in gluten-containing foods),
• heat transfer mediums, for example, in deep frying, heat energy is transferred from the heat source to the food in the pho.
The G.M.A. pointed out that while the F.D.A. banned phos in food it did not ban trans fat, which occurs naturally in beef, milk and other dairy products.
The G.M.A. said that if the F.D.A. approves its petition, analysis shows 90% of the population will consume less than 1.33% of energy per day from the combined consumption of natural and added trans fats. Recent diet intervention studies, meta-analyses and mode of action (MOA) data show people may consume as much as 1.5% of energy per day from trans fats without causing changes in serum levels or low-density lipoprotein (L.D.L.) cholesterol, according to the G.M.A.