Going Trans Fat Free Without Compromising Taste or Performance

Studies conducted among college students show a new generation of trans fat-free, “high oleic” canola oils can ease the transition away from partially hydrogenated oils

25 Jul 2006
TORONTO – When college students return to campuses this fall, they won’t just be cracking open new books, they’ll be cracking open new cafeteria menus, too … menus that are trans-fat free.

At a combined annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) and the Canadian College and University Food Service Association (CCUFSA), a number of colleges and universities reported taking steps to reduce trans fats and saturated fats from cafeteria menus.

It’s important to us to provide healthier options for our customers. This oil has allowed us to offer students their favorite fried foods that taste great and are healthier too,” said Marc Zammit, Director, Culinary Support and Development at Bon Appétit Management Company, which manages 400 cafés and restaurants -including the Georgetown Univerity Law Center café -that have switched to a new generation of healthier canola oil.

Referred to as “high oleic” oil because of its fatty acid profile, the new oil has zero trans fats and lower saturated fats, and is a viable alternative to partially hydrogenated (PH) oils. PH oils, which are the industry standard, are notoriously high in trans fats and have been linked to a significantly increased risk of heart disease.

“This oil performs equal to, or better than, existing frying oils without compromising taste,” said Bill McCullough with Bunge, whose Nutra-Clear NT brand is used at Georgetown Law Center café. “And it offers a longer fry life than other trans-free alternatives, which makes it cost-effective for school cafes to switch.”

Other colleges and universities who have made the switch include MIT, Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College.

These decisions come on the heels of important regulatory developments in both countries. In January, the Food & Drug Administration began requiring food processing companies to list trans fat content on their labels. And, early this month, the Canadian Trans Fat Task Force released recommendations on ways to reduce trans fats of contents in food all across Canada. One area that directly affects the food service industry is the Task Force’s recommendation to use high oleic canola oil as a healthier alternative to medium and high stability vegetable oils in food preparation, processed foods, and baked goods.

“We have been impressed with the variety of ways in which we can use this oil — from frying to salad dressing,” said Zammit, Director, Culinary Support and Development at Bon Appétit Management Company. “The students certainly don’t notice a change in taste but they benefit from fewer bad fats in their food.”

Superior Taste
Students actually helped confirm the viability of the oil. A taste panel of Canadian students demonstrated significant consumer preference for the new oils compared to commercial standards. Sensory scores for french fries, chicken strips, and fish sticks prepared in the healthy oil were rated twice as high compared to partially hydrogenated canola respectively.

An American consumer product study of 170 adults and 179 teenagers conducted by Jeffrey Gross Marketing Research found that french fries prepared using Nutra-Clear NT oil were equally preferred to fries prepared using today’s commonly used frying oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

When compared to a new, trans fat-free soybean oil, however, both the adults and teenagers significantly preferred the taste of fries cooked in the new trans fat-free canola oil … by a margin of two to one.

Superior Performance
A study by the University of Lethbridge in Alberta found that this new oil has more than a 50 percent greater fry life when compared to other cooking oils, making it cost-effective for restaurants to switch.

The study, led by Roman Przybylski, PhD, compared the fry life and performance of 10 cooking oils used to prepare three different foods (french fries, chicken, and fish) in a restaurant-style rotation.

In the study, the new oil performed well in the kitchen. The study measured the presence of total polar material (TPM) formation to determine the oil discard point. The research team used 24 percent TPM, which is a recognized international analytical standard at which oil should be discarded.

The high oleic canola oil, which has high oxidative stability, never reached the 24 percent TPM mark, even after 88 hours of frying over the course of 11 days. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil, low linolenic soybean oil, low linolenic canola oil, and regular canola oil all passed the discard point at day six after 48 hours of frying.

Superior Nutrition
Research confirms that french fries, chicken fingers, and fish sticks prepared and fried in this new canola oil can achieve “zero trans fat” and “low saturated fat” per-serving claims in both the U.S. and Canada.
In nutritional tests conducted as part of the Lethbridge study, food prepared using the high oleic canola oil had the lowest combined level of trans fats and saturated fats of any oil tested. Nutrition analysis demonstrated that the foods fried in this canola oil had 65 percent lower levels of combined trans fats and saturated fats than the same foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils.

Commercially Available
The canola oil, produced from Dow AgroSciences’ NEXERA canola seeds, represents a new foodservice oil category given its reduced levels of trans and saturated fats and performance profile. A recent survey conducted by Dow AgroSciences found that 87 percent of North American (94 percent of Canadian) restaurant owners and operators would definitely or probably consider changing frying oils if they knew it could decrease trans fats and saturated fats in fried foods without compromising taste or cost.

It is estimated that over 17 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated oils are used each year in North America. Dow AgroSciences significant volume growth can immediately begin to displace partially hydrogenated oils used in frying applications.

About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Co. is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs with Environmental Defense, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, and other leading conservation organizations. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 29 states, including Oracle Corporation, American University and the Getty Center.

About Bunge North America
Bunge North America (www.bungenorthamerica.com), the North American operating arm of Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG), is a vertically integrated food and feed ingredient company, supplying raw and processed agricultural commodities and specialized food ingredients to a wide range of customers in the livestock, poultry, food processor, foodservice and bakery industries. With headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, Bunge North America and its subsidiaries operate grain elevators, oilseed processing plants, edible oil refineries and packaging facilities, and corn dry mills in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences LLC, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, is a top tier agricultural company providing innovative crop protection, seeds, and biotechnology solutions to serve the world’s growing population. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, global sales for Dow AgroSciences are $3.4 billion. Learn more at www.dowagro.com.