Last month when the Food and Drug Administration decided that trans fats would no longer be “generally recognized as safe,” their decision made big headlines in the news, but it’s actual impact on the food business was debatable. Growing concern over trans fats had already to cutbacks and according to the FDA, consumption of trans fats fell by 78 percent from 2003 to 2012, the New York Times reported.
But unnatural trans fats (as opposed to natural trans fats like those that exist in beef or butter and are not affected by the FDA ruling) still exist in some foods and they will have to go away. But what will replace them?
Nation’s Restaurant News specifically looked at new oils that are being used to address the trans-fat ban, with Stratas Foods, a company that specializes in providing fats and oils to the food industry.
According to Roger Daniels, Vice President of Research, Development and Innovation for Stratas, restaurants and food manufacturers will just use reformulated versions of many of the oils on the do-not-use list like canola, soybean and sunflower oils. These new versions have been specifically developed to be higher in monounsaturated fat, allowing them to be more shelf-stable, and possibly, more healthy.
Restaurant News listed other alternatives as well, including “natural solid-containing oils such as palm and palm kernel and coconut; designer lipids such as Algal oils; and next-generation seed oil products.” But these products can come with problems of their own. Take palm oil for example: It’s controversial due to accusations that it contributes to deforestation.
For someone who doesn’t work in the cooking oil industry or never got their PhD in chemistry, all these trans fat alternatives are probably enough to make your head spin. It’s a reminder that getting rid of trans fats isn’t the end of the discussion. In some ways, it’s just the beginning.