When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally announced its ban on the use of partially hydrogenated oils this past summer, many in the food and restaurant industries had already taken steps to prepare for the new regulations.
After monitoring the FDA’s progress as it hammered out the various aspects of the final ruling over the past two years, many chains and independent operators — with aid from oil suppliers like Stratas Foods — have already made the transition to more healthful solutions for their frying requirements.
To help provide foodservice operators with high-performing frying solutions, Stratas has been busy addressing the trans-fat issue in their research and development laboratories for years. Among the resulting innovations were high performance frying oils made from high-oleic oils — a new generation of oils and fats for use in the emerging trans-fat-free marketplace.
Those farsighted operators who had anticipated the sweeping changes had already turned to more healthful substitutes in the form of high-oleic canola, sunflower and soybean oils. These oils are high in monounsaturates and low in polyunsaturates, and provide for long shelf life and a clean, neutral flavor. Additionally, of critical importance, the high-oleic oils contain zero grams of artificial trans fat per serving, bringing them line with the FDA rules.
High-oleic oils, in fact, represent a major step in the foodservice industry’s overall forward march toward the use of more health-centric ingredients and cooking techniques. However, while high-oleic canola, soybean and sunflower oils provide a more healthful frying solution, they also possess high levels of functionality as well.
“High Oleic oils deliver ‘better-for-you and your customer’ attributes in two dimensions; exceptional shelf life and a flavor profile that allows the goodness of the food to come through,” said Roger Daniels, vice president, research, development and innovation for Stratas Foods.
Daniels points out the high-oleic oils are designed to have a longer fryer life, enabling fried menu items to retain a higher level of food quality and flavor. They also have been developed to last longer in the fryer, ensuring that a foodservice operator can achieve full value of the frying medium while offering consistently superior deep-fried fare — known in the industry as “staying in the sweet spot.”
Oil needs to be seasoned in the fryer, which allows for optimal flavor and color development in crispy fried foods. High-oleic oils let users get in the sweet spot sooner and stay longer than commodity oils. They have a more robust fryer life.
Nevertheless, not all operators are prepared to make the change, so one of the challenges inherent in marketing high-oleic oils is educating the end user. Some restaurateurs have balked at making the switch, maintaining that the cost per case or per pound tends to be higher than that of PHOs.
In the long run, though, Stratas research and customer usage has proven that the final cost actually turns out to be lower because high-oleic oils last longer. Most of the larger foodservice chains understand the whole value proposition, that they will pay more for oil, but high-oleic oil has a longer fry life, so they benefit overall.
Stratas’ laboratory research and customers’ personal experience has fueled high-oleic canola oil’s rapid gain in popularity among foodservice operators. But many also are choosing to use higher-performance, high-oleic soybean oil, which is characterized as having a cleaner flavor and higher fry life. Calling it the “oil of the future,” proponents predict it will emerge as the most dominant oil in the industry.
In addition to its line of high-oleic oils, Stratas made available other alternatives, including natural solid-containing oils like palm and palm kernel and coconut; and next-generation seed oil products.
The availability of multiple oil alternatives, combined with changing consumer dietary habits overall have driven a sharp reduction in fat consumption.
“Trans consumption has decreased from a high of 4.6 g / day in 2006 to its present level of about 1.0 g / day due to a focused research and commercialization approach of “better-for-you” oils like high-oleic oils” added Daniels.
Foodservice operators, In addition to focusing attention on the selection of the appropriate trans-fat-free frying solution, are voicing interest in such issues as non-GMO, sustainability, local or US grown and the use of additives in their oils. For instance, some of the larger foodservice operator’s chains have been encouraging manufacturers to work with farmers to help maximize yields from fewer acres while pursuing crop management best practices.
The FDA, which had been weighing its decision since 2013, gave the food industry three years — until June 18, 2018 — to banish partially hydrogenated oils. The latest regulations mark a reversal from the FDA’s previous policy. Earlier, the agency had stated in a preliminary determination that PHOs were “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, a term that indicates that an ingredient or product can be lawfully used in food. However, after studying further evidence, the FDA reached the conclusion that artificial trans fats do indeed contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol.
In a changing world of frying needs and expectations, Stratas executives remain on the road visiting customers and in their labs striving to reassure foodservice operators that they shouldn’t worry unduly about the looming changes in the fried-foods marketplace. They say they are listening carefully to operator and consumer concerns in an effort to devise as many solutions as possible, and are ready to help guide operators to the optimal solution for their particular situation.
Memphis, Tenn.-based Stratas Foods LLC specializes in providing fats and oils to the foodservice, food ingredient and retail private markets.
Article Source Restaurant News