The American Soybean Association (ASA), a membership-driven policy organization representing 25,000 soybean farmers, is urging food companies to consider using a variety of available soy-based technologies and other alternatives as they decide how to reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids in food products. ASA is also asking companies “to carefully consider the consequences of raising the level of heart-unhealthy fats as a solution to the trans fats issue.”“Several processing technologies have been developed that transform the chemical and physical properties of soybean oil so that the end product has few or no trans fats,” stated ASA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Censky in a letter to food companies, co-signed by the United Soybean Board (USB).The letter cited the process of “interesterification,” under which fully hydrogenated soybean oil – which contains no trans fats – is combined with liquid vegetable oil using a chemical or enzyme to achieve products with characteristics required for baked goods and other food products. Other available processing technologies include blending, use of texture-building agents, or increasing use of antioxidants to improve stability.The letter also described efforts by the U.S. soybean industry to develop improvements in soybean germplasm that will sharply reduce or eliminate trans fats in food products. In addition to new soybean varieties planned for introduction by seed companies, ASA and USB cited ongoing work by the QUALISOYTM program to deliver desired functional and nutritional traits in soybeans.“The soybean industry recognizes the need to build intrinsic value into new varieties, and every link in the chain is committed to improving the nutritional value and overall stability of soybean oil,” Censky said in the letter. “With new technologies emerging every day, there will be an even wider variety of options for all processors and manufacturers who are looking for viable soy-based alternatives to partially hydrogenated oil.”In recent years, the American public has shown an increasing interest in, and desire to eat, healthier foods like soy products. ASA is hopeful that food companies will use soy-based technologies and other alternatives for reducing or eliminating trans fatty acids in food products, as they develop and market products that maintain and improve the nutritional quality of the American diet.