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FDA authorizes qualified health claim for soybean oil

United Soybean Board Soybean Oil, Meal and Beans
Manufacturers may now communicate that soybean oil may reduce coronary heart disease risk and lower LDL cholesterol.

Soybean oil can be part of a healthy diet, and now soybean farmers and food manufacturers can proudly tout its heart health benefits. Thanks to a petition for a qualified health claim just authorized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, soybean oil – and products containing soybean oil – can use a heart health claim on packaging, menus and more.

The petition, filed by Bunge North America, pointed to the potential heart health benefits of soybean oil, and manufacturers may now communicate that soybean oil may reduce coronary heart disease risk and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when replacing saturated fat and not increasing calories.

The claim is similar to those associated with canola oil and olive oil and states that eating 1.5 tablespoons of soybean oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when replacing saturated fat and not increasing calories. FDA announced that it had no objections to the claim for foods that qualify.

“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,” said John Motter, United Soybean Board chairman and soybean farmer from Jenera, Ohio. “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.”

American Soybean Assn. president Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill., applauded the news.

“The oil market is extremely important for U.S. soybean farmers, and the newly approved health claim will enable manufacturers of soybean oil to communicate to consumers about the heart-healthy benefits of soybean oil," he said. "Heart-healthy soybean oil creates a potential for growth in a time when net farm income is down. This development is a welcome one, and we congratulate the Bunge team for their work in seeing it to fruition.”

The American Heart Assn. recently went on record regarding the cardiovascular benefits of the fats found in soybean oil.

“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 & Cardiovascular Disease, A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association,” published in June 2017.

These positive movements for soybean oil will help in U.S. markets primarily, but the soy checkoff will use the claim to position U.S. soy in international markets where health-conscious decisions are also being made.

As for the U.S., food companies interested in using the claim on food products with at least 5.0 g of soybean oil per serving can use the full statement below when also meeting applicable criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium and, in some cases, the presence of one of six beneficial nutrients identified by FDA. The authorized claim language is as follows:

“Supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1.5 tablespoons (20.5 g) daily of soybean oil, which contains unsaturated fat, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. To achieve this possible benefit, soybean oil is to replace saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. One serving of this product contains [x] grams of soybean oil.”

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