Dow to double production of trans fat free cooking oils

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Trans fat Nutrition Fatty acid

Dow AgroSciences yesterday announced that it is to increase
production of its trans fat free canola and sunflower oils on the
back of an increased demand as food manufacturers strive to churn
out healthier products.

The US agribusiness said it is to increase its production of Natreon oils by 35 percent in North America this year, with plans to double volume in 2007.

"The food industry is under enormous pressure to get 'bad fats' out of foods and off of menus,"​ said David Dzisiak, global business leader for oils at Dow AgroSciences.

"Natreon canola and sunflower oils offer zero trans fats and the lowest level of saturated fats on the market today,"​ he added.

A wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, Dow AgroSciences claims its Natreon high stability oils demonstrate longer fry life than partially hydrogenated oils that are prevalent in the food supply today.

It also markets its oils as able to provide "significant health benefits,"​ claiming that French fries cooked in Natreon oils have more than an 80 percent reduction in trans and saturated fat content than fries cooked in partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Though trace amounts of trans fats are found naturally, in dairy and meats, the vast majority are formed during the manufacture of processed foods.

The industrial food process of partial hydrogenation changes the molecular configuration and properties of oils, creating trans fatty acids (TFAs) in the oil.

These oils, which extend shelf life and flavor stability, have displaced natural solid fats and liquid oils in many areas of food processing.

But mounting evidence suggests the TFAs raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, causing the arteries to become more rigid and clogged, and increasing the risk of heart disease.

And since January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food products sold in the US to list trans fat content, something that has added extra incentive for manufacturers to find alternative processes and ingredients to cut the TFAs from their food products.

According to Dow, Natreon oils are produced from a new generation of canola and sunflower varieties, which are very efficient to grow, and allow for cost effective and high volume supplies.

"We expect to have more than a half a billion pounds of Natreon high stability canola and sunflower oils this year. In 2007, Dow AgroSciences and our processing partners can more than double this capacity to over 1.2 billion pounds,"​ said Dzisiak.

But Dow is currently involved in an ongoing patent battle with rival firm Cargill over the production of canola oil.

In February Cargill filed an appeal of a judge's ruling in December that prevents the company from enforcing patents for high oleic oils.

In 2003 Cargill had filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Portland, Oregon, claiming that Dow's Natreon canola cooking oil infringes on four patents secured by Cargill for its Clear Valley high oleic canola oils.

According to the company, the court ruled that Dow infringed on two of the four patents, ordering it to pay Cargill $2 million in damages.

But a post-trial motion by Dow alleged that Cargill had not submitted all relevant testing data to the US Patent Office, which resulted in the district court declaring the patents unenforceable in the US.

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