The soybean oil industry is finally able to use the same qualified health claim that the canola oil industry has been using for 11 years.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a petition by Bunge North America for a claim linking consumption of soybean oil to reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
It states that eating 1.5 tablespoons of soybean oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease when it replaces saturated fat in the diet and doesn’t increase the total calories consumed in a day.
The canola industry has been using the same claim since 2006.
Food manufacturers can now use a heart-health claim on packaging and menus for products containing at least five grams of soybean oil per serving.
“The food industry is by far our largest customer for soybean oil and by submitting this claim, Bunge is really looking out for soybean farmers and our long-term profitability,” United Soybean Board chair John Motter said in a news release.
“This claim really helps U.S. soybean farmers maintain their competitiveness in this critical market and helps us compete with other oils that have become synonymous with heart health.”
Dave Dzisiak, commercial leader of grains and oils for North America with Dow AgroSciences, is not worried about canola oil losing market share to soybean oil as a result of the claim.
“It’s good to have but nobody really uses it,” he said.
It can be useful for informing health care professionals, dietitians and food company executives about the potential health benefits of consuming soybean or canola oil, but food companies never put the message on their packages or menus because the claim takes up too much space on the label and may actually turn consumers off.
“If you’re a food company talking about the great food product you have, you really don’t want to talk about disease at the same time,” said Dzisiak.
“It’s like those pharmaceutical commercials on TV. ‘This probably works, but oh my God, if I took it I could probably grow a third eye.’ ”
He said the canola claim served a purpose because it helped the food industry learn how to differentiate between good fats and bad fats, which was a fairly new concept a decade ago. However, today an oil health claim is like table stakes at a poker game.
Food company executives are far more interested in talking about taste, functionality, cost and supply.