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 GMA 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 FDA 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 FDA said food companies must remove PHOs from their products no later than June 18, 2018.

The FDA 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.

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 GMA pointed out that while the FDA banned PHOs in food, it did not ban trans fat, which occurs naturally in beef, milk and other dairy products.