The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now allow food manufacturers to include a heart health claim on products containing soybean oil. The decision was based on multiple human clinical studies that have linked consumption of soybean oil to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
According to the United Soybean Board (USB), an organization that represents soybean farmers across the US, most vegetable oils contain soybean oil, making it the most consumed type of edible oil in the US.
“We conclude strongly that lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, like those found in soybean oil, will lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, co-author of “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease, A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association.”
Manufacturers of soybean oil and products that contain it – including salad dressings, dips and baked goods – will now be able to use the heart health claim on their food labels. Heart health is reportedly the most important quality to US consumers when shopping for groceries, according to the market research company, the Hartman Group.
The US is responsible for producing 33 percent of the world’s soybean crop. Bunge North America, a food ingredient company specializing in tuning oilseeds into an edible oil, spearheaded the change by petitioning the FDA to support the health claim.
“Based on a compelling set of human studies from top nutrition researchers showing that soybean oil could lower LDL cholesterol when replacing saturated fat, we proactively petitioned the FDA to permit the claim recognizing that enabling heart health communications for this oil would further enhance its attractiveness,” said Dr. Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing, Bunge North America. “The FDA’s decision provides opportunities for food companies eager to develop heart healthy products, consumers looking to improve heart health, and soybean farmers who thrive when demand for their crop increases.”
Coronary heart disease causes 370,000 deaths in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lowering cholesterol is an important risk mitigation strategy for some patients, which could, at least in part, be achieved through consumption of heart-healthy fats such as soybean oil.
“We take great pride in the trusted relationships we have with our farmer customers and work hard to develop new markets for their crops,” said Timothy Gallagher, executive vice president, Oilseed Value Chain, Bunge North America. “By promoting soybean oil’s heart health benefits, we are helping to drive demand for a high quality product that can benefit the full soybean value chain from farm to table.”