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Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils

1750 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 120
Washington, DC 20006

Phone 202-783-7960
Fax 202-393-1367

Eighth Edition
Prepared by the
Technical Committee of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, Inc.

Ed Campbell, Chairman
Nick Baker
Maury Bandurraga
Maurice Belcher
Carl Heckel
Allan Hodgson
Jan Hughes
Tony Ingala
Dan Lampert
Earniie Louis
Don McCaskill
Gerald McNeill
Mark Nugent
Ed Paladini
Judy Price
Ram Reddy
Joe Sharp
Stan Smith
Dennis Strayer
Bob Wainwright
Laura Waldinger

First edition -- 1957

Second edition -- 1963
Third edition -- 1968
Fourth edition -- 1974
Fifth edition -- 1982
Sixth edition -- 1988
Seventh edition -- 1994
Eighth edition -- 1999

© 1999 by the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, Inc. Additional copies of
this publication may be obtained upon request from the Institute of Shortening
and Edible Oils, Inc., 1750 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
This publication has been prepared to provide useful information to the public
regarding the nutritive and functional values of fats in the diet, the composition of
fats and answers to the most frequently asked questions about fats and oils. It is
intended for use by consumers, nutritionists, dieticians, physicians, food
technologists, food industry representatives, students, teachers, and others having
an interest in dietary fats and oils. Additional detail may be found in the
references listed at the end of the publication which are arranged in the order of
topic discussion. A glossary is also provided.

The Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, Inc. gratefully acknowledges the
assistance of Judith Putnam, Economic Research Service, Human Nutrition
Information Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture for providing data on the
availability (or disappearance) of fats and oils in foods and Ed Hunter, Ph.D.,
consultant, for his assistance in writing this publication.

Table of Contents
Preface ................................................................................................... i

I. Importance of Fats .................................................................................1

II. What is a fat?..........................................................................................1

III. Chemical Composition of Fats...............................................................1

A. The Major Component – Triglycerides ...........................................1

B. The Minor Components ...................................................................2
1. Mono- and Diglycerides ..............................................................2
2. Free Fatty Acids...........................................................................2
3. Phosphatides ................................................................................2
4.Sterols ...........................................................................................2
5.Fatty Alcohols...............................................................................2
6.Tocopherols ..................................................................................2
7. Carotenoids and Chlorophyll.......................................................2
8.Vitamins .......................................................................................2

IV. Fatty Acids .............................................................................................3

A. General .............................................................................................3
B. Classification of Fatty Acids............................................................3
1. Saturated Fatty Acids ...................................................................3
2. Unsaturated Fatty Acids...............................................................3
3. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids ........................................................4
C. Isomerism of Unsaturated Fatty Acids.............................................4
I. Geometric Isomerism....................................................................4
2. Positional Isomerism....................................................................5

V. Nutritional Aspects of Fats and Oils ......................................................6

A. General .............................................................................................6
B. Metabolism of Fats and Oils ............................................................6
C. Essential Fatty Acids........................................................................6
D. Fat Level in the Diet.........................................................................7
E. Diet and Cardiovascular Disease .....................................................7
F. Diet and Cancer................................................................................9
G. Health Effects of Trans Fatty Acids from Hydrogenation .............11
H. Areas of Current Research Interest ................................................13
I. Nonallergenicity of Edible Oils .....................................................14
J. Biotechnology ................................................................................14
K. Fat Reduction in Foods ..................................................................15

VI. Factors Affecting Physical Characteristics of Fats and Oils ................16

A. Degree of Unsaturation of Fatty Acids ..........................................16

B. Length of carbon Chains in Fatty Acids.........................................17
C. Isomeric Forms of Fatty Acids.......................................................17
D. Molecular Configuration of Triglycerides .....................................17
E. Polymorphism of Fats ....................................................................18

VII. Processing ...........................................................................................18

A. General...........................................................................................18
B. Degumming ...................................................................................18
C. Refining .........................................................................................18
D. Bleaching .......................................................................................19
E. Deodorization.................................................................................19
F. Fractionation (including Winterization).........................................19
G. Hydrogenation ...............................................................................19
H. Interesterification ...........................................................................20
I. Esterification ..................................................................................20
J. Emulsifiers .....................................................................................21
K. Additives and Processing Aids ......................................................21

VIII. Reactions of Fats and Oils....................................................................23

A. Hydrolysis of Fats ..........................................................................23

B. Oxidation of Fats............................................................................23
1. Autoxidation...............................................................................23
2. Oxidation at Higher Temperatures.............................................23
C. Polymerization of Fats ...................................................................23
D. Reactions during Heating and Cooking .........................................24

IX. Products Prepared from Fats and Oils..................................................25

A. General ...........................................................................................25
B. Salad and Cooking Oils..................................................................27
C. Shortenings (Baking and Frying Fats) ...........................................28
D. Hard Butters ...................................................................................28
E. Margarine and Spreads...................................................................29
F. Butter..............................................................................................29
G. Dressings for Food .........................................................................29
1. Mayonnaise and Salad Dressing ................................................29
2. Pourable-Type Dressings ...........................................................29
3. Reduced Calorie Dressings ........................................................29
4. Reduced Fat, Low Fat, and Fat Free Dressings..........................30
H. Toppings, Coffee Whiteners, Confectioners’ Coatings
and Other Formulated Foods..........................................................30
I. Lipids for Special Nutritional Applications ...................................30

X. Trends in Fat Consumption..................................................................30

XI. Conclusion ...........................................................................................32

References ............................................................................................33

Glossary ...............................................................................................36

Common Test Methods and Related Terms.........................................40

Food Fats and Oils
The oils and fats most frequently used in the
I. IMPORTANCE OF FATS U.S. for salad and cooking oils, shortenings, margarines,
salad dressings and food ingredients include soybean,
Fats and oils are recognized as essential corn, cottonseed, palm, peanut, olive, safflower,
nutrients in both human and animal diets. They provide sunflower, canola, coconut, palm kernel, lard, and beef
the most concentrated source of energy of any foodstuff, tallow. More detailed information on the use of some of
supply essential fatty acids (which are precursors for these oils in specific products is provided in Section IX.
important hormones, the prostaglandins), contribute Specialized vegetable oils of lesser availability in the
greatly to the feeling of satiety after eating, are carriers U.S. include rice bran, shea nut, illipe, and sal.
for fat soluble vitamins, and serve to make foods more
palatable. Fats and oils are present in varying amounts in III. CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF FATS
many foods. The principal sources of fat in the diet are
meats, dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts, and vegetable Triglycerides are the predominant component of
fats and oils. Most vegetables and fruits consumed as most food fats and oils. The minor components include
such contain only small amounts of fat. Recent data from mono- and diglycerides, free fatty acids, phosphatides,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1) suggests that sterols, fatty alcohols, fat-soluble vitamins, and other
actual fat consumption currently is about 33% of total substances.
calories. A knowledge of the chemical composition of
fats and oils and the sources from which they are A. The Major Component – Triglycerides
obtained is essential in understanding nutrition and
biochemistry. A triglyceride is composed of glycerol and three
fatty acids. When all of the fatty acids in a triglyceride
II. WHAT IS A FAT? are identical, it is termed a “simple” triglyceride. The
more common forms, however, are the “mixed”
Fats and oils are chemical units commonly triglycerides in which two or three kinds of fatty acids
called “triglycerides” resulting from the combination of are present in the molecule. Illustrations of typical
one unit of glycerol with three units of fatty acids. They simple and mixed triglyceride molecular structures are
are insoluble in water but soluble in most organic shown below.
solvents. They have lower densities than water, and at
normal room temperatures range in consistency from H 2 COO-C-R 1 (Fatty Acid 1 )

liquids to solids. When solid appearing they are referred HCOO-C-R 1 (Fatty Acid 1 )
to as “fats” and when liquid they are called “oils.” 

H 2 COO-C-R 1 (Fatty Acid 1 )

Simple Triglyceride
The term “lipids” embraces a variety of
chemical substances. In addition to triglycerides, it also
includes mono- and diglycerides, phosphatides, H 2 COO-C-R 1 (Fatty Acid 1 )

cerebrosides, sterols, terpenes, fatty alcohols, fatty acids, HCOO-C-R 2 (Fatty Acid 2 )
fat-soluble vitamins, and other substances. 

H 2 COO-C-R 3 (Fatty Acid 3 )

Mixed Triglyceride

The fatty acids in a triglyceride define the nucleus plus an 8 to 10 carbon side chain and an alcohol
properties of the molecule and are discussed in greater group. Although sterols are found in both animal fats
detail in Section IV. and vegetable oils, there is a substantial difference
biologically between those occurring in animal fats and
B. The Minor Components those present in vegetable oils. Cholesterol is the
primary animal fat sterol and is only found in vegetable
1. Mono- and Diglycerides oils in trace amounts. Vegetable oil sterols collectively
are termed “phytosterols.” Sitosterol and stigmasterol
Mono- and diglycerides are mono- and diesters are the best-known vegetable oil sterols. The type and
of fatty acids and glycerol. They are used frequently in amount of vegetable oils sterols vary with the source of
foods as emulsifiers. They are prepared commercially by the oil.
the reaction of glycerol and triglycerides or by the
esterification of glycerol and fatty acids. 5. Fatty Alcohols
Mono- and diglycerides are formed in the
intestinal tract as a result of the normal digestion of Long chain alcohols are of little importance in
triglycerides. They also occur naturally in very minor most edible fats. A small amount esterified with fatty
amounts in both animal fats and vegetable oils. acids is present in waxes found in some vegetable oils.
Larger quantities are found in some marine oils.
R 1 -COO-CH 2 HO-CH 2
 
6. Tocopherols
 

HO-CH 2 HO-CH 2 Tocopherols are important minor constituents of

1 (or α)-Monoglyceride 2 (or β)-Monoglyceride most vegetable fats. They serve as antioxidants to retard
rancidity and as sources of the essential nutrient vitamin
R 2 -COO-CH 2 R 2 -COO-CH 2 E. There are four types of tocopherols varying in
 

R 1 -COO-CH HO-CH antioxidation and vitamin E activity. Among

  tocopherols, alpha-tocopherol has the highest vitamin E
HO-CH 2 R 1 -COO-CH 2 activity and the lowest antioxidant activity. Tocopherols,
1,2-Diglyceride 1,3-Diglyceride naturally occurring in most vegetable fats, may be
partially removed by processing. They are not present in
2. Free Fatty Acids appreciable amounts in animal fats. These or other
antioxidants may be added after processing to improve
As the name suggests, free fatty acids are the oxidative stability in finished products.
unattached fatty acids present in a fat. Some unrefined
oils may contain as much as several percent free fatty 7. Carotenoids and Chlorophyll
acids. The levels of free fatty acids are reduced in the
refining process discussed in Section VII. Refined fats Carotenoids are color materials occurring
and oils ready for use as foods usually have a free fatty naturally in fats and oils. Most range in color from
acid content of only a few hundredths of one percent. yellow to deep red. Chlorophyll is the green coloring
matter of plants which plays an essential part in the
3. Phosphatides photosynthetic process. At times, the naturally occurring
level of chlorophyll in oils may be sufficient for the oils
Phosphatides consist of alcohols (usually to be tinged green. The levels of most of these color
glycerol), combined with fatty acids, phosphoric acid, bodies are reduced during the normal processing of oils
and a nitrogen-containing compound. Lecithin and to give them acceptable color, flavor, and stability.
cephalin are common phosphatides found in edible fats.
For all practical purposes, refining removes the 8. Vitamins
phosphatides from the fat or oil.
Generally speaking, most fats and oils are not
4. Sterols good sources of vitamins other than vitamin E. The fat-
soluble vitamins A and D sometimes are added to foods
Sterols, also referred to as steroid alcohols, are a which contain fat because they serve as good carriers
class of substances that contain the common steroid and are widely consumed. For example, vitamin A is
included in the federal standard for margarine, and the Saturated and unsaturated linkages are illustrated
vitamins A and D are included in the federal standard for below:
Grade A milk.


A. General

Triglycerides are comprised predominantly of

fatty acids present in the form of esters of glycerol. One Saturated Bond
hundred grams of fat or oil will yield approximately 95
grams of fatty acids. Both the physical and chemical
characteristics of fats are influenced greatly by the kinds
and proportions of the component fatty acids and the
way in which these are positioned on the glycerol
molecule. The predominant fatty acids are saturated and
unsaturated carbon chains with an even number of Unsaturated Bond
carbon atoms and a single carboxyl group as illustrated
in the general structural formula for a saturated fatty acid When the fatty acid contains one double bond it
given below: is called “monounsaturated.” If it contains more than one
double bond, it is called “polyunsaturated.”
In the International Union of Pure and Applied
Chemistry (IUPAC) system of nomenclature, the
CH 3 -(CH 2 ) x COOH
carbons in a fatty acid chain are numbered consecutively
Unsaturated carbon chain carboxyl group
from the end of the chain, the carbon of the carboxyl
group being considered as number 1. By convention, a
specific bond in a chain is identified by the lower
Edible oils also contain minor amounts of
number of the two carbons that it joins. In oleic acid
branched chain and cyclic acids. Also odd number
(cis-9-octadecenoic acid), for example, the double bond
straight chain acids are typically found in animal fats.
is between the ninth and tenth carbon atoms.
Another system of nomenclature in use for
B. Classification of Fatty Acids
unsaturated fatty acids is the “omega” or “n minus”
classification. This system is often used by biochemists
Fatty acids occurring in edible fats and oils are
to designate sites of enzyme reactivity or specificity. The
classified according to their degree of saturation.
terms “omega” or “n minus” refer to the position of the
double bond of the fatty acid closest to the methyl end of
1. Saturated Fatty Acids. Those containing
the molecule. Thus, oleic acid, which has its double
only single carbon-to-carbon bonds are termed
bond 9 carbons from the methyl end, is considered an
“saturated” and are the least reactive chemically.
omega-9 (or an n-9) fatty acid. Similarly, linoleic acid,
The saturated fatty acids of practical interest are
common in vegetable oils, is an omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid
listed in Table I by carbon chain length and common
because its second double bond is 6 carbons from the
name. All but acetic acid occur naturally in fats. The
methyl end of the molecule (i.e., between carbons 12 and
principal fat sources of the naturally occurring saturated
13 from the carboxyl end). Eicosapentaenoic acid, found
fatty acids are included in the table.
in many fish oils, is an omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid. Alpha-
The melting point of saturated fatty acids
linolenic acid, found in certain vegetable oils, is also an
increases with chain length. Decanoic and longer chain
omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid.
fatty acids are solids at normal room temperatures.
When two fatty acids are identical except for the
position of the double bond, they are referred to as
2. Unsaturated Fatty Acids. Fatty acids
positional isomers. Fatty acid isomers are discussed at
containing one or more carbon-to-carbon double bonds
greater length in subparagraph C of this section.
are termed “unsaturated.” Some unsaturated fatty acids
Because of the presence of double bonds,
in food fats and oils are shown in Table II. Oleic acid
unsaturated fatty acids are more reactive chemically than
(cis-9-octadecenoic acid) is the fatty acid that occurs
most frequently in nature.
are saturated fatty acids. This reactivity increases as the With the bonds in a conjugated position, there is
number of double bonds increases. a further increase in certain types of chemical reactivity.
Although double bonds normally occur in a non- For example, fats are much more subject to oxidation
conjugated position, they can occur in a conjugated and polymerization when bonds are in the conjugated
position (alternating with a single bond) as illustrated position.
below: 3. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. Of the
polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, linolenic,
arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic
acids containing respectively two, three, four, five, and
six double bonds are of most interest. The nutritional
Conjugat ed
importance of these fatty acids is discussed in Section V,
Part C, “Essential Fatty Acids.”
Vegetable oils are the principal sources of
linoleic and linolenic acids. Arachidonic acid is found in
small amounts in lard, which also contains about 10% of
linoleic acid. Fish oils contain large quantities of a
variety of longer chain fatty acids having three or more
double bonds including eicosapentaenoic and
Non -co njugat ed docosahexaenoic acids.

Systematic Common No. of Melting Typical Fat Source
Name Name Carbon Atoms* Point °C
Ethanoic Acetic 2 -- --
Butanoic Butyric 4 -7.9 Butterfat
Hexanoic Caproic 6 -3.4 Butterfat
Octanoic Caprylic 8 16.7 Coconut oil
Decanoic Capric 10 31.6 Coconut oil
Dodecanoic Lauric 12 44.2 Coconut oil
Tetradecanoic Myristic 14 54.4 Butterfat, coconut oil
Hexadecanoic Palmitic 16 62.9 Most fats and oils
Octadecanoic Stearic 18 69.6 Most fats and oils
Eicosanoic Arachidic 20 75.4 Peanut oil
Docosanoic Behenic 22 80.0 Peanut oil
*A number of saturated odd and even chain acids are present in trace quantities in many fats and oils.

C. Isomerism of Unsaturated Fatty Acids the carbon atoms joined by the double bonds. If the
hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the carbon
Isomers are two or more substances composed chain, the arrangement is called cis. If the hydrogen
of the same elements combined in the same proportions atoms are on opposite sides of the carbon chain, the
but differing in molecular structure. The two important arrangement is called trans, as shown by the following
types of isomerism among fatty acids are (1) geometric diagrams. Conversion of cis isomers to corresponding
and (2) positional. trans isomers result in an increase in melting points as
shown in Table II.
1. Geometric Isomerism. Unsaturated fatty
acids can exist in either the cis or trans form depending
on the configuration of the hydrogen atoms attached to
Diagram I. A comparison of cis and trans molecular arrangements.



No. of No. of Melting
Systematic Name Common Double Carbon Point
Name Bonds Atoms °C Typical Fat Source
9-Decenoic Caproleic 1 10 - Butterfat
9-Dodecenoic Lauroleic 1 12 - Butterfat
9-Tetradecenoic Myristoleic 1 14 18.5 Butterfat
9-Hexadecenoic Palmitoleic 1 16 - Some fish oils, beef fat
9-Octadecenoic Oleic 1 18 16.3 Most fats and oils
9-Octadecenoic* Elaidic 1 18 43.7 Partially hydrogenated
11-Octadecenoic* Vaccenic 1 18 44 Butterfat
9,12-Octadecadienoic Linoleic 2 18 -6.5 Most vegetable oils
9,12,15-Octadecatrienoic Linolenic 3 18 -12.8 Soybean oil, canola oil
9-Eicosenoic Gadoleic 1 20 - Some fish oils
5,8,11,14-Eicosatetraenoic Arachidonic 4 20 -49.5 Lard
5,8,11,14,17-Eicosapentaenoic - 5 20 - Some fish oils
13-Docosenoic Erucic 1 22 33.4 Rapeseed oil
4,7,10,13,16,19-Docosahexaenoic - 6 22 - Some fish oils
*All double bonds are in the cis configuration except for elaidic acid and vaccenic acid which are trans.

Elaidic and oleic acids are geometric isomers; in the such as cows, sheep and goats and also result from the
former, the double bond is in the trans configuration and partial hydrogenation of fats and oils.
in the latter, in the cis configuration. Generally speaking,
cis isomers are those naturally occurring in food fats and 2. Positional Isomerism. In this case, the
oils. Trans isomers occur naturally in ruminant animals location of the double bond differs among the isomers.
Petroselinic acid, which is present in parsleyseed oil, is diet or from endogenous sources, are transported in the
cis-6-octadecenoic acid and a positional isomer of oleic blood as lipoproteins. The triglycerides are stored in the
acid, cis-9-octadecenoic acid. Vaccenic acid, which is a adipose tissue until they are needed as a source of
minor acid in tallow and butterfat, is trans-11- calories. The amount of fat stored depends on the caloric
octadecenoic acid and is both a positional and geometric balance of the whole organism. Excess calories,
isomer of oleic acid. regardless of whether they are in the form of fat,
The position of the double bonds affects the carbohydrate, or protein, are stored as fat. Consequently,
melting point of the fatty acid to a limited extent. Shifts appreciable amounts of dietary carbohydrate and some
in the location of double bonds in the fatty acid chains as protein are converted to fat. The body can make
well as cis-trans isomerization may occur during saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids by modifying
hydrogenation. other fatty acids or by de novo synthesis from
The number of positional and geometric isomers carbohydrate and protein. However, certain
increases with the number of double bonds. For polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, cannot
example, with two double bonds, the following four be made by the body and must be supplied in the diet.
geometric isomers are possible: cis-cis, cis-trans, trans- Fat is mobilized from adipose tissue into the
cis, and trans-trans. Trans-trans dienes, however, are blood as free fatty acids. These form a complex with
present in only trace amounts in partially hydrogenated blood proteins and are distributed throughout the
fats and thus are insignificant in the human food supply. organism. The oxidation of free fatty acids is a major
source of energy for the body. The predominant dietary
V. NUTRITIONAL ASPECTS OF FATS AND OILS fats (i.e., over 10 carbons long) are of relatively equal
caloric value. The establishment of the common pathway
A. General for the metabolic oxidation and the energy derived,
regardless of whether a fatty acid is saturated,
Fats are a principal and essential constituent of monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated and whether the
the human diet along with carbohydrates and proteins. double bonds are cis or trans, explains this equivalence
Fats are a major source of energy which supply about 9 in caloric value.
calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates each
supply about 4 calories per gram. C. Essential Fatty Acids
In calorie deficient situations, fats together with
carbohydrates spare protein and improve growth rates. Experimental work in the 1930’s in animals and
Some fatty foods are sources of fat-soluble vitamins, and humans demonstrated that certain long chain
the ingestion of fat improves the absorption of these polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and arachidonic, are
vitamins regardless of their source. Fats are vital to a essential for growth and good skin and hair quality. Now
palatable and well-rounded diet and provide the essential linoleic and linolenic acids are termed “essential”
fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic. because they cannot be synthesized by the body and
must be supplied in the diet. Arachidonic acid, however,
B. Metabolism of Fats and Oils can be synthesized by the body from dietary linoleic
acid. Arachidonic acid is considered an essential fatty
In the intestinal tract, dietary triglycerides are acid because it is an essential component of membranes
hydrolyzed to 2-monoglycerides and free fatty acids. and a precursor of a group of hormone-like compounds
These digestion products, together with bile salts, called eicosanoids including prostaglandins,
aggregate and move to the intestinal cell membrane. thromboxanes, and prostacyclins which are important in
There the fatty acids and the monoglycerides are the regulation of widely diverse physiological processes.
absorbed into the cell and the bile acid is retained in the Linolenic acid is also a precursor of a special group of
intestines. Most dietary fats are 95-100% absorbed. In prostaglandins. The dietary fatty acids that can function
the intestinal wall, the monoglycerides and free fatty as essential fatty acids must have a particular chemical
acids are recombined to form triglycerides. If the fatty structure, namely, double bonds in the cis configuration
acids have a chain length of ten or fewer carbon atoms, and in specific positions (carbons 9 and 12 or 9, 12, and
these acids are transported via the portal vein to the liver 15 from the carboxyl carbon atom or carbons 6 and 9 or
where they are metabolized rapidly. Triglycerides 3, 6 and 9 from the methyl end of the molecule) on the
containing fatty acids having a chain length of more than carbon chain.
ten carbon atoms are transported via the lymphatic The requirement for these essential fatty acids
system. These triglycerides, whether coming from the has been demonstrated clearly in infants. While the
minimum requirement has not been determined for consumed, more eating occasions, and increased soft
adults, there is no doubt that they are essential nutrients. drink and alcoholic beverage intake (4).
The current American diet provides at least the Fat intake is generally measured by two
minimum essential fatty acid requirement. According to methods: (1) surveys of individuals recalling the
the Food and Nutrition Board’s Recommended Dietary amounts of foods consumed over a specific time period
Allowances (2), the amount of dietary linoleic acid and (2) “consumption” estimates from food
necessary to prevent essential fatty acid deficiency in disappearance data as calculated from available sources.
several animal species and also in humans is 1 to 2% of The latter method may overstate actual consumption
dietary calories. However, for much of the general estimates because food disappearance data do not
population, 3% of calories as linoleic acid is considered account for foods wasted or discarded and lost to
to be a more satisfactory minimum intake. In the case of spoilage, trimming, or cooking. It has been estimated
linolenic acid, the requirement for humans has been that wastage of deep frying fats used in the food service
estimated to be 0.5% of calories. sector may be as high as 50% (5); therefore, food
The Committee on Diet and Health of the Food component estimates from food “disappearance” data,
and Nutrition Board (3) has recommended that the particularly fat, may be overestimated. The accuracy of
average population intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids dietary recall data is also difficult to ensure due to errors
(primarily linoleic acid) remain at the current level of of memory in recalling foods eaten previously.
about 7% of calories and that individual intakes not Dietary guidelines were first issued by the
exceed 10% of calories because of lack of information American Heart Association in the early 1970s in an
about the long-term consequences of a higher intake. For attempt to educate Americans as to the importance of a
many reasons, especially because essential fatty acid healthful diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in
deficiency has been observed exclusively in patients conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and
with medical problems affecting fat intake or absorption, Human Services later developed Dietary Guidelines for
the Food and Nutrition Board has not established an Americans in 1980. In 1990 these guidelines first
RDA for omega-3 or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty included recommended limitations for fat consumption
acids. which remained unchanged in a 1995 update (6) of the
guidelines. The guidelines for fat call for a total fat
D. Fat Level in the Diet intake of no more than 30% of calories with a saturated
fatty acid intake of no more than 10% of calories.
Fats in the diet are often referred to as “visible” Although these dietary guidelines for fat have been
or “invisible.” Visible fats are those added to the diet in established for over 20 years, the relatively small
foods such as salad dressings, spreads and processed changes in fat intake during this time period reflect the
foods, whereas invisible fats are those that are naturally difficulty on a national scale in achieving dietary goals
occurring in foods such as meats and dairy products. such as reducing fat intake.
According to the Economic Research Service of
USDA, between 1970 and 1997, Americans increased E. Diet and Cardiovascular Disease
their consumption of total visible fat from 52.6 to 65.6
pounds per person per year (see Table X). On the other Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart
hand, if these data are expressed as a percentage of total attack and stroke, are the leading causes of death in the
calories consumed, fat intake from visible and invisible United States. The most predominant form of
sources would appear to have decreased from about 43% cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease or CHD
to about 33% of calories. This apparent paradox of (commonly referred to as “heart attack”) which,
increasing amounts of fat consumed per day while according to the American Heart Association (AHA), is
decreasing the percentage of fat calories is explained by the single leading cause of death in America resulting in
the fact that while daily fat consumption has been 481,287 deaths in 1995 (7). Atherosclerosis, the gradual
increasing recently, total caloric intake has been blocking of arteries with deposits of lipids, smooth
increasing at a greater rate (4). This increased level of muscle cells, and connective tissue, contributes to most
calorie intake will reduce the calculated percentage of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
calories from fat even though actual fat consumption has Cardiovascular diseases are chronic
not gone down. The dietary trend of increased caloric degenerative diseases of complex etiology that often are
consumption is thought to be the result of increased associated with aging. A number of risk factors for
carbohydrate intake, larger food portions being cardiovascular disease have been identified from
epidemiological studies. These include positive family
history of cardiovascular disease, cigarette smoking, recommendations were very similar to previous
hypertension (high blood pressure), elevated serum guidelines. The panel confirmed that low-density
cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, male lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol should continue to be the
sex, age, and excessive stress. Although these risk primary target of cholesterol lowering efforts. The most
factors have been associated statistically with the significant of the few additional recommendations
incidence and mortality of cardiovascular disease, no included adding age (>45 years in men and >55 years in
cause and effect relationships have been established. women) as a risk factor for CHD.
During the 1950s considerable interest began to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in
develop concerning a possible relationship between concert with the NCEP guidelines endorses selective
dietary fat and the incidence of coronary heart disease. cholesterol screening of children older than two years of
This interest has continued to the present time. Since diet age whose parents have a history of CHD (10).
can affect serum cholesterol and since heart attack risk However, the AAP does not recommend restrictions in
increases with increasing serum cholesterol levels, some fat intake in children younger than two years of age.
health advisory organizations (e.g., the American Heart The levels of total cholesterol and the LDL and
Association, Office of the Surgeon General, the National HDL fractions in the blood are influenced by a
Institutes of Health, and the National Academy of combination of factors, including age, sex, genetics, diet,
Sciences) have recommended diet modification to and physical activity. Diet and exercise are factors which
achieve lower serum cholesterol levels in the general individuals can modify and thus have been a basis for
population. These diet modifications include reducing recommendations to reduce risk factors for chronic
consumption of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. diseases such as coronary heart disease. The three major
Researchers now recognize that total serum categories of dietary fatty acids (saturated,
cholesterol is distributed largely between two general monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated) appear to
classes of lipoprotein carriers, low-density lipoprotein influence total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol in different
(LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The largest ways. Predictive equations have been developed and
portion of total cholesterol is in the LDL fraction, and applied. In general, diets high in saturated fatty acids
elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with increase total as well as LDL and HDL cholesterol levels
increased coronary heart disease risk. On the other hand, compared to diets low in saturated fatty acids. The
high levels of HDL cholesterol have been associated specific saturated fatty acids palmitic (the principal
with protection against coronary heart disease. One saturated fatty acid in the U.S. diet), myristic and lauric
factor that has been related to increased levels of HDL acids are considered to be cholesterol raising, whereas
cholesterol is regular exercise. However, it is uncertain stearic acid and medium-chain saturated fatty acids (6 to
whether diet or exercise related modifications of LDL or 10 carbon atoms) have been considered to be neutral
HDL levels will affect development of coronary heart with respect to effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins.
disease. Long-term studies are currently in progress to Monounsaturated (e.g., olive, canola) and
address these questions. polyunsaturated (e.g., sunflower, corn, soybean) fatty
The National Cholesterol Education Program acids are cholesterol lowering when they replace
(NCEP) was established in the mid-1980s by the significant levels of saturated fatty acids in the diet.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Clinical and epidemiological studies indicate that
Institutes of Health, to increase public and health polyunsaturates lower LDL and total cholesterol. Some
professional awareness regarding the importance of studies have found that diets high in monounsaturated
lowering elevated serum cholesterol levels. In 1987 fatty acids compared with polyunsaturated fatty acids
guidelines were established by the Adult Treatment decrease LDL cholesterol while maintaining HDL
Panel, which embodied two approaches for a cholesterol levels (11,12). Other work has suggested that
coordinated strategy for reducing coronary risk (8). The the effect of consuming polyunsaturated fat and
first is a “population” approach, which attempts to lower monounsaturated fat is similar and results in a decrease
serum cholesterol levels of the entire U.S. population in both LDL and HDL cholesterol (13). There is
through dietary change. The second approach attempts to currently disagreement among health authorities on
identify individuals at high risk of developing heart whether unsaturated fatty acids in the American diet
disease and to provide them with diet and/or drug should be reduced in favor of complex carbohydrates.
therapy. Studies have shown that dietary components
In 1993, a second Adult Treatment Panel other than fats and oils, including proteins,
updated the earlier guidelines and recommendations for carbohydrates, fiber and trace minerals, may also affect
cholesterol management (9). The panel’s blood lipid levels and the development of
atherosclerosis. Thus, a possible relationship between intermediate density lipoproteins, and an increased risk
diet (particularly fats) and coronary heart disease of CHD. Although LDL Phenotypes A and B are thought
remains uncertain, and the appropriateness of specific to be determined by genetics only, some recent work
dietary recommendations for the general population is suggests that substantial reductions in energy from fat
not agreed upon. Additional research will be necessary could be detrimental to certain individuals.
to clarify the uncertainties. In the meantime, nutritionists The American Heart Association (AHA) has
emphasize moderation in the consumption of fat as well taken the position that dietary factors influence the risk
as other nutrients. of CHD (17). The AHA believes the three most
While atherosclerosis is the slow, progressive important dietary risk factors for atherogenesis are
narrowing of an artery that gradually reduces blood flow, saturated fat, cholesterol, and obesity. The AHA has
the actual precipitating event of a heart attack is established a two-step dietary guidance program
frequently thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot that designed to reduce total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol,
can lodge in an artery blocking blood flow. If the which it believes could reduce average blood cholesterol
blockage of the artery is complete, a heart attack or levels in the U.S. by 5-15%. The AHA encourages
stroke may result. There is current scientific interest in carbohydrate intake be increased to replace those
whether atherosclerosis (including elevated serum calories lost through reductions in fat intake.
cholesterol levels) is related to thrombotic risk. With A trend of considerable interest to
regard to how specific dietary fatty acids might affect epidemiologists and other health professionals is the
thrombotic tendency, it has been demonstrated that continuing decline in the death rate from cardiovascular
polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., from fish oils) diseases. During the period 1984 to 1994, the U.S. age-
have antithrombotic effects. The mechanisms of these adjusted death rate from cardiovascular diseases
effects appear to involve the metabolism of compounds (considered as a whole) decreased about 22% (7). In
related to eicosanoids. In contrast to the effects of particular, the mortality from coronary heart disease
polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, there appears to be decreased 29% during this period (7). Specific reasons
no direct evidence that dietary long-chain saturated fatty for decreasing mortality due to cardiovascular disease
acids, such as stearic acid, are thrombogenic to humans. are not known. However, recognition and increased
Although some epidemiological evidence suggests that public awareness of major risk factors (cigarette
saturated fatty acids may play a role in thrombotic smoking, hypertension, and elevated serum cholesterol)
events, more research is needed to establish whether and more effective treatment of heart disease have
there is a relationship to thrombotic risk and to elucidate probably played roles. The decline in heart disease
the possible mechanism of action. mortality in the U.S. has been observed in all decades of
Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), a particle similar to low life, in all races, and in both sexes.
density lipoprotein (LDL), has been suggested by some
researchers to be a risk factor for CHD due to its high F. Diet and Cancer
serum levels in many heart attack victims who otherwise
have no obvious risk factors. Lp(a) levels are thought to Cancer is the second leading cause of death in
be largely controlled by genetic factors, however, some the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. The
reports indicate that the diet also may influence Lp(a) American Cancer Society predicted that about 564,800
levels (14, 15). Americans would die of cancer in 1998 (18). The three
Recent research has revealed that LDL particle most common sites of fatal cancer in men are lung,
size may influence one’s susceptibility to CHD (16). prostate, and colo-rectal. In women, the three most
Specifically, an abundance of smaller size LDL particles common sites are lung, breast, and colo-rectal. In men
has been associated with increased CHD risk. It has been and women, cancers at these top three sites account for
determined that approximately 67% of men and 80% of about half of all cancer fatalities.
women in the U.S. have a high proportion of LDL Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by
particles whose size is relatively large (approximately uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the
270 angstroms in diameter). The remaining population spread is not controlled, it can result in death. Cancer is
has LDL particles that are somewhat smaller caused by both external factors (e.g., chemicals,
(approximately 250 angstroms in diameter). The larger radiation, and viruses) and internal factors (e.g., immune
LDL is characterized as Phenotype A and the smaller conditions and inherited mutations). Causal factors may
LDL as Phenotype B. Phenotype B has been shown to be act together or sequentially to initiate or promote
particularly atherogenic and is associated with lower carcinogenesis. Frequently the time period between
HDL levels, higher triglycerides, higher levels of exposures or mutations and appearance of cancer is very
long, often 10 years or longer. Risk factors contributing when the fat is unsaturated. Some studies suggest that a
to cancer development include cigarette smoking, certain high level of dietary fat may act as a promoter of
dietary patterns, exposure to sunlight, exposure to carcinogenesis rather than as an initiator of tumors. A
radioactive materials or specific chemicals, and family promoter is a compound that by itself is not carcinogenic
history. All cancers caused by cigarette smoking and but which enhances the ability of a carcinogen to
heavy use of alcohol are considered preventable. Many produce cancer. The existence, however, of a direct
cancers related to dietary factors or to sunlight exposure relationship between caloric content, fat unsaturation,
are also felt to be preventable. Unlike heart disease in and carcinogenesis is still unclear.
which blood cholesterol levels serve as an indictor of In addition to interest in effects of the total
risk, there are no similar types of markers to indicate a amount of fat in the diet, there is also interest in whether
cancer may be developing. Early detection of cancer, for individual types of fatty acids can affect cancer risk. A
instance through regular screening examinations, greatly recent assessment of currently available data suggests
increases the chances of successful treatment. that specific saturated, monounsaturated, or
According to the American Cancer Society (18), polyunsaturated fatty acids do not affect cancer risk (20).
between 1991 and 1995, the national cancer death rate Although animal studies have suggested that
fell 2.6%. Most of the decline was attributed to polyunsaturated fatty acids may increase tumor growth,
decreases in mortality from cancers of the lung, colon- no relationship has been found between polyunsaturated
rectum, and prostate in men, and breast, colon-rectum, fatty acids and cancer in humans (21). Similarly, studies
and gynecologic sites in women. The declines in in animals have found that omega-3 fatty acids (e.g.,
mortality were greater in men than in women, largely from fish oils) suppress cancer formation, but at this
because of changes in lung cancer rates; greater in young time there is no direct evidence for protective effects in
patients than in older patients; and greater in African- humans. Oleic acid and saturated fatty acids have not
Americans that in Caucasians, although mortality rates been found to have any specific effects on
remain higher in African-Americans. carcinogenesis. Available scientific evidence also does
Some scientific studies have reported not support a relationship between trans fatty acids and
associations between dietary factors, such as low intake risk of cancer at any of the major cancer sites. On a
of dietary fiber or high intake of fat, and the appearance positive note, recent studies have shown that conjugated
of cancer at certain sites. Such studies are called linoleic acid, found primarily in lipids from ruminant
epidemiological studies. They assess the existence of animals, appears to be unique among fatty acids because
relationships between factors, such as diet and low levels in the diet produce significant cancer
development of diseases like cancer. These studies do protection. This effect seems to be independent of other
not prove cause and effect. For example, incidence of dietary fatty acids. (For further discussion of conjugated
breast and colon cancer have been correlated with linoleic acid, see section H, Areas of Current Research
variations in diet, especially fat intake. However, a Interest.)
causal role for dietary factors has not been firmly Accumulating evidence suggests that diets rich
established. A recent study of approximately 90,000 in antioxidant vitamins (in particular, vitamins A and C)
women in the U.S. found no significant association may help reduce the risk of some cancers. Vitamins A
between diets high in fat and breast cancer (19). Also in and C are abundant in many fruits and vegetables.
developed countries, certain types of cancer may be Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin found principally in
related more closely to excessive calorie intake than to vegetable oil products. There is less epidemiological
any specific nutrient. Overall, there is no evidence of a evidence regarding vitamin E, however, laboratory and
causal relationship between macronutrients in the diet animal data support its anticarcinogenic activity. Further
and cancer. research is needed to establish dietary levels of
Laboratory animal studies on diet and cancer antioxidants that are both safe and effective.
have dealt largely with the response of chemically- The American Cancer Society has suggested
induced or transplanted tumors to increased calories (18) from existing scientific evidence that about one-
from extra fat in the diet. Some of these studies have third of the cancer deaths that occur in the U.S. each year
suggested that dietary calories and type of fat consumed are due to dietary factors. Another third is due to
may be related to cancer incidence, particularly with cigarette smoking. Thus, for the majority of Americans
breast and colon cancer. Other animal studies have who do not use tobacco, dietary choices and physical
indicated that moderate caloric restriction may result in activity become important modifiable determinants of
lower cancer incidence and, for a given level of fat in the cancer risk. Evidence also indicates that although
diet, animals may develop a higher incidence of cancer genetics are a factor in the development of cancer,
heredity does not explain all cancer occurrences. nonhydrogenated oils are deodorized under certain
Behavioral factors such as tobacco use, dietary choices, conditions (e.g., prolonged heating at high
and physical activity modify the risk of cancer at all temperatures).
stages of its development. Adopting healthful diet and The hydrogenation process is very important to
exercise practices at any stage of life can promote health the food industry to achieve desired stability and
and likely reduce cancer risk. physical properties in such food products as margarines,
Many dietary factors can affect cancer risk: shortenings, frying fats, and specialty fats. Examples of
types of foods, food preparation methods, portion sizes, enhanced stability provided by hydrogenation include
food variety, and overall caloric balance. The American increased shelf life of commercial snack foods and
Cancer Society believes that cancer risk can be reduced prolonged frying stability of food service deep frying
by an overall dietary pattern that includes a high fats. An example of a desired physical property is the
proportion of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, and semi-solid consistency at refrigerator and room
beans), limited amounts of meat, dairy products, and temperatures of margarines and spreads.
other high-fat foods, and a balance of caloric intake and Trans isomers were a principal objective in solid
physical activity. Plant foods contain fiber, which is shortening and margarine products of the 1950s and
believed to reduce the risk of cancers of the rectum and 1960s because of their ability to contribute higher
colon. They also are rich in antioxidant vitamins, melting properties while maintaining an unsaturated
minerals, and phytochemicals that may play a role in character. More recent concerns about trans isomers
reducing cancer risk. acting physiologically like saturated fatty acids has
Overall, in the area of diet and cancer, a encouraged the industry to pursue reduced levels of
significant challenge is relating promising data from trans isomers in many food products. Current partially
animal and cell culture studies to the prevention of hydrogenated restaurant and food service frying oils
cancer in humans. typically contain about 10-35% trans isomers. Tub
margarines and spreads (on a product basis) typically
G. Health Effects of Trans Fatty Acids from contain trans fatty acid levels up to 16%, whereas stick
Hydrogenation margarines typically have trans fatty acid levels around
Hydrogenation is the process of chemically Widespread use of partially hydrogenated
adding hydrogen gas to a liquid fat in the presence of a vegetable oils in the U.S. during the past six or seven
catalyst. This process converts some of the double bonds decades has raised questions about possible adverse
of unsaturated fatty acids in the fat molecules to single consequences of consuming the isomeric fatty acids
bonds, thereby increasing the degree of saturation of the present in these products. The principal isomeric fatty
fat. The degree of hydrogenation, that is, the total acids of interest have been trans fatty acids rather than
number of double bonds which are converted, positional isomers of cis fatty acids. Studies concerning
determines the physical and chemical properties of the health effects of trans fatty acids have focused primarily
hydrogenated oil or fat. An oil that has been “partially” on their levels in the U.S. diet and their effects on
hydrogenated often retains a significant degree of parameters related to coronary heart disease risk.
unsaturation (i.e., double bonds) in its fatty acids. The Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
Hydrogenation also results in the conversion of some cis (ISEO) has reported an estimate of trans fatty acids
double bonds to the trans configuration (see Part IV, available for consumption in the U.S. diet for 1989 to be
Section C, Isomerism of Unsaturated Fatty Acids) and in about 8 g/person/day (22). This estimate is considered to
the formation of cis or trans positional isomers in which be relevant to the present day because few changes have
one or more double bonds has migrated to a new occurred in the U.S. diet since around 1989 that would
position in the fatty acid chain. The levels and types of have modified appreciably the estimate. The ISEO’s
these isomeric fatty acids formed depend on the type of estimate was based on a comprehensive analysis of
oil and conditions (e.g., temperature, pressure, catalyst, products made from partially hydrogenated fats and oils
and duration) of the hydrogenation processing. that were available for consumption. Availability
Small amounts of trans fatty acids occur estimates do not represent actual consumption but rather
naturally in foods such as milk, butter, cheese, beef, and indicate what could be consumed on average. Using data
tallow as a result of biohydrogenation in ruminants. from the USDA’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by
USDA has estimated that up to 20% of the trans fatty Individuals, Allison, et al (23) estimated the mean intake
acids in the American diet are from ruminant sources of trans fatty acids by the U.S. population to be 5.3
(22). Traces of trans isomers may also be formed when g/day, which is substantially lower than the ISEO’s
availability estimate of 8 g/person/day. Estimates of dietary treatments included high oleic acid, high stearic
trans fatty acid levels in the U.S. diet by various acid, high trans, moderate trans, and high saturated fatty
investigators have indicated that trans acids contribute acids. Compared to the control diet, the trans fatty acid
only about 2 to 4% of total energy. This is a small diets raised total and LDL cholesterol to about the same
percentage compared to saturated fatty acids, which extent as the high saturated diet but they had no effect on
contribute 12-14% of energy intake (24, 25). HDL cholesterol. The stearic acid diet had no effect on
A major study involving 14 Western European LDL cholesterol but lowered HDL cholesterol.
countries was conducted by the TNO Institute of the Most of the studies on health effects of trans
Netherlands assessing trans fatty acid intake using fatty acids conducted during the 1970s and 1980s found
compositional data developed during the study and no significant associations between trans fatty acid
available national food consumption data (26). Trans intake and risk of coronary heart disease. On the other
fatty acid intake ranged from 1.2 g/d in Portugal to 6.7 hand, recent epidemiological studies have reported that
g/d in Iceland. The overall mean of trans fatty acid trans fatty acids have a positive association with CHD
intake was 2.4 g/d, smaller than expected by the risk (31). There are a number of limitations of these
investigators. studies including the difficulty of measuring trans fatty
Prior to 1990, there were numerous reviews and acid intake through the use of food frequency intake
studies on the nutritional and biological effects of trans questionnaires, the lack of a dose response relationship
fatty acids. Most of these studies focus on the between trans fatty acid intake and heart attack risk and
development of atherosclerosis and on the effects of the inconsistency of study results. Above all it must be
trans fatty acids on serum cholesterol levels. Generally remembered that epidemiological studies do not show
these studies indicated that trans fatty acids were not cause and effect and are simply indicators of where
uniquely atherogenic nor did they raise total cholesterol clinical studies may be needed. Furthermore, the
compared to cis fatty acids. However, these findings mortality from CHD in the U.S. has continued to
were challenged in 1990 by a Dutch study (27) which decrease during the past 25-30 years (32), a period in
indicated that a diet high in trans fatty acids (11.0% which the availability for consumption of trans fatty
energy) raised total and LDL cholesterol and lowered acids has remained relatively constant (22).
HDL cholesterol in human subjects compared to a high Scientists have also performed numerous studies
oleic acid diet. A follow-up study by these investigators using animal models to investigate the health effects of
using a somewhat lower level of dietary trans fatty acids trans fatty acids. Available data from short-term studies
(7.7% energy) reported that dietary trans acids raised involving rabbits, hamsters, pigs, and monkeys have
total and LDL cholesterol and lowered HDL cholesterol demonstrated that trans fatty acids in the presence of
compared to a high linoleic acid diet but not compared to adequate essential fatty acids did not produce
a high stearic acid diet. atherosclerosis.
The results of these studies stimulated a major Four recent comprehensive reports have
U.S. clinical trial which examined the health effects of addressed possible health effects of trans fatty acids. A
both high (6.6% energy) and moderate (3.8% energy) British Nutrition Foundation Task Force (33) concluded
levels of trans acids compared with high oleic acid that “the risk attributable to the current low intake of
(16.7% energy) and high saturated fatty acid (16.2% trans fatty acids (4-6 g/person/day) which accounts for
energy as lauric, myristic and palmitic acids) levels (28). 2% of dietary energy in the UK appears to be small,
The results were that the high and moderate trans fatty although extreme consumers may experience higher
acid diets increased total and LDL cholesterol compared risk.” A report by the International Life Sciences
to the oleic acid diet but reduced total and LDL Institute (ILSI) (24) emphasized that since trans fatty
cholesterol compared to the high saturated fatty acid acids are often substituted for unsaturated fatty acids in
diet. The high trans diet, but not the moderate trans diet experimental diets, it is unclear whether the responses
resulted in a minor reduction in HDL cholesterol. Lp(a) reported reflect the addition of trans fatty acids to the
levels were not affected by the trans diets compared to diets or the reduction in dietary unsaturated (i.e.,
the oleic diet when all subjects were considered cholesterol-lowering) fatty acids. Another ILSI report
collectively (29). (34) addressed whether dietary trans fatty acids
Judd, et al, (30) have conducted a follow-up compromise fetal and infant early development. The
study to address limitations noted in previous studies. A report concluded that there is little evidence in animals
high carbohydrate diet was included as a control to or humans that trans fatty acids influence growth,
assess if direct addition of trans fatty acids to the diet reproduction, or gross aspects of fetal development. An
has an independent cholesterol raising effect. Other ASCN/AIN Task Force on Trans Fatty acids (25)
concluded that “compared to saturated fatty acids, the anticarcinogenic and antiatherogenic properties and may
issue of trans fatty acids is less significant because the affect body composition. CLA differs from linoleic acid
U.S. diet provides a smaller proportion of trans fatty by the position and geometric configuration of one of its
acids and the data on their biological effects are limited.” double bonds. CLA isomers are found primarily in lipids
The Task Force recommended that data be obtained on originating from ruminant animals (beef, dairy, and
the intake of trans fatty acids, their biological effects, lamb) and are reported to range from about 3 to 11 mg/g
mechanism of action, and relation to disease that are fat (36). Fats from nonruminants (pork and chicken) and
comparable to those for saturated fatty acids. vegetable oils contain lower amounts of CLA ranging
In contrast to the amount of literature on trans from 0.6 to 0.9 mg/g fat (37). The availability for
fatty acids in relation to coronary heart disease, consumption of CLA in the U.S. has been estimated to
relatively few investigators have studied trans fatty acids be on the order of several hundred milligrams per day
with respect to cancer. Ip and Marshall (35) published a (38).
comprehensive review of more than 30 reports Animal studies have indicated that CLA reduces
addressing this issue. With respect to breast cancer, Ip the incidence of tumors induced by carcinogens such as
and Marshall noted that epidemiologic evidence shows dimethylbenz[a]anthracene and benzo[a]pyrene (39-45).
only slight to negligible impact of fat intake in general CLA appears to be a unique anticarcinogen because it is
on breast cancer risk and no strong evidence that intake a naturally occurring substance found primarily in food
of trans fatty acids is related to increased risk. In products derived from animal sources. Most other
addition, there is no evidence indicating that intake of naturally occurring substances that have been
trans fatty acids is related to increased risk of either demonstrated to have anticarcinogenic activity are of
colon cancer or prostate cancer. Overall, the available plant origin. CLA is also unique because it is a fatty acid
scientific evidence does not support a relationship mixture and anticancer efficacy is expressed at
between trans fatty acids and risk of cancer at any of the concentrations close to human consumption levels.
major cancer sites. Inhibition of tumor development in animals has been
In summary, recent comprehensive reviews of seen with CLA at concentrations as low as 0.1% in the
the literature indicate that trans fatty acids at their diet.
current level of intake are a safe component of the diet. In addition to its anticarcinogenic properties,
At relatively high levels of intake, trans fatty acids CLA appears to be antiatherogenic as well. Recent
appear to raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterol. When studies involving rabbits (46) or hamsters (47) indicated
substituted for unhydrogenated oils high in unsaturated that incorporation of CLA into the diets suppressed total
fatty acids, trans fats increase total and LDL cholesterol. and LDL-cholesterol and also atherosclerosis.
However, trans fats lower total and LDL cholesterol Furthermore, dietary CLA is able to affect body
when substituted for animal fats and vegetable oils high composition (48, 49). Diets supplemented with 0.5%
in saturated fatty acids. Hydrogenated oils are used CLA have been found to decrease body fat content and
mainly as a substitute for more highly saturated increase lean body mass in several species including
vegetable oils and for animal fats containing both poultry, pigs, and rodents. Pigs fed CLA also showed
saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Since trans fatty improved feed efficiency (weight gain per unit weight of
acids appear to raise total and LDL cholesterol levels to food consumed) and improved immune systems
about the same extent as saturates but are present in the compared to controls. Thus, in the future CLA could be
U.S. diet at a much lower level compared to saturates (2- a useful additive for animal feeds. Further research is
4% versus 12-14% of energy), they pose less of a health needed to elucidate the mechanism of CLA to inhibit
concern than do saturated fatty acids. Consumers cancer and atherosclerosis. Human studies on body
lowering their fat intake to 30 percent of calories, as composition effects are underway at this time.
recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Another area of recent research interest is in the
Americans (6), will simultaneously reduce their intake of possibility of using dietary intake of certain plant sterols,
saturated as well as trans fatty acids. such as sitosterol, to help reduce the risk of coronary
heart disease. Sitosterols were found to be serum
H. Areas of Current Research Interest cholesterol lowering agents in the 1950s, and their mode
of action appeared to be due to the inhibition of
A group of isomers of the essential fatty acid cholesterol absorption during the digestive process (50).
linoleic acid, collectively termed “conjugated linoleic Recent studies with humans have examined the
acid” (CLA), has received considerable attention in serum cholesterol lowering ability of sterol esters
recent years because these isomers appear to have both incorporated into margarines. A Finnish study utilized
sitostanol esters, a hydrogenated sitosterol obtained from allergenicity. Many reports alleging edible oil
a wood pulp byproduct, fed in margarine to mildly allergenicity have been testimonial in nature. Of those
hypercholesterolemic subjects at levels ranging from reports that have been scientifically recorded, most lack
1.9-2.6 g sitostanol/day. A mean reduction in plasma evidence that edible oils were indeed the causative agent
serum cholesterol of 10% was observed after one year or were even ingested. For example, many investigators
(51). A second study used esters of sitosterol that were did not perform tests to confirm an allergic response
extracted from soybean oil and incorporated into from the oil in question nor were analyses conducted to
margarine, and compared their cholesterol lowering determine if protein was present in the oil. Also many
effect directly with that of sitostanol esters. This study, reports do not indicate if the oils were cold pressed or
using normocholesterolemic and mildly not. There is also a lack of scientific data to determine
hypercholesterolemic subjects, found a reduction of 8- the levels of proteins needed to cause an allergic
13% of plasma total and LDL cholesterol levels, and reaction; therefore such tolerance levels in humans have
both the soybean sterols and the sitostanols were equally not been established. Furthermore, the sensitivities of
effective compared to the control diet (52). food allergic individuals may vary widely, and not all
In 1995, a margarine containing sitostanol esters allergenic foods have the same tolerance level.
from wood pulp was introduced commercially in While some consumers are convinced they are
Finland. The product proved to be very popular and allergic to edible oils, there are usually alternate
initially demand outstripped supply. This success has explanations for these reactions. For example, foods
stimulated proposals to launch the product in the U.S. in containing peanuts, a common allergenic food
1999. At the same time, a commercial margarine ingredient, may be cooked in peanut oil. An allergic
containing sitosterol esters obtained from soybean oil reaction experienced as a result of eating this food may
has been developed for the U.S. and European markets. be mistakenly blamed on the oil. Also foods containing
Both the sitosterol based and sitostanol based margarines inherent allergens may be cooked in edible oils resulting
are expected to be introduced in the U.S. in mid-1999, in traces of the allergenic protein being left behind in the
pending regulatory approval. oil. Restaurants and food service facilities should
therefore exercise caution in cooking techniques and be
I. Nonallergenicity of Edible Oils able to readily identify not only the oils used but also a
complete list of all foods cooked in the oil.
Food allergies are caused by the protein The vast preponderance of edible oils consumed
components of food. Edible oils in the U.S. undergo in the US are highly refined and processed to the extent
extensive processing (sometimes referred to as “fully that allergenic proteins are not present in detectable
refined”, discussed in section VII Processing) which amounts. The majority of well-designed and performed
removes virtually all protein from the oil. Refined edible scientific studies indicate that refined oils are safe for the
oils therefore do not cause allergic reactions because food-allergic population to consume (53).
they do not contain allergenic protein. Food products
containing refined edible oils as ingredients are also non- J. Biotechnology
allergenic unless the food products contain other sources
of protein. Biotechnology has been defined broadly as the
Some edible oils may be extracted and processed commercial application of biological processes. It
by procedures that do not remove all protein present. includes both hybridization and genetic modification of
While the vast majority of oils found in the US are plants and animals. The goal of biotechnology is to
refined by processes which remove virtually all protein, develop new or modified plants or animals with
mechanical or “cold press” extraction is occasionally desirable characteristics. The earliest applications of this
used, which may not remove all protein. These cold technology have been in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic
pressed oils are rarely used domestically and are usually and agricultural sectors. Agricultural applications to
found only in health food or gourmet food stores. food crops have resulted in improved “input” agronomic
Studies using cold pressed soybean oil have shown it to traits, which affect how the plants grow. Such traits
be safe; however, insufficient testing has been done to include higher production yields, altered maturation
ensure that all cold pressed oils can be safely consumed periods, and resistance to disease, insects, stressful
by sensitive individuals. weather conditions, and herbicides. Currently
Edible oils have been blamed for causing researchers and seed developers are placing more
allergic reactions in people, but there are conflicting emphasis on improving “output” quality traits which
views and inadequate scientific evidence regarding their affect what the plant produces. An example of this
application is the custom designing of nutrient profiles China with 14%, Argentina with 11%, Canada with 10%
of food crops for improved nutrition and reduced and Australia and Mexico with about 1% each (54).
allergenic properties. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration
The more notable biotechnology applications has principal regulatory responsibility for approving the
within the oilseed industry include herbicide tolerant introduction of foods and food additives from transgenic
soybeans and canola, high and midoleic sunflower, low plants into the marketplace. The agency has maintained a
linolenic/low saturate soybeans, high linoleic flaxseed biotechnology policy since 1992, which states that foods
oil, low linolenic canola, high laurate canola, high oleic derived from new genetically engineered plant varieties
canola, and high stearate canola. Exciting opportunities will be regulated essentially the same as foods created by
for edible oil crop nutrient content and functionality conventional means. Labeling of such foods or food
improvement include reduction in saturated fatty acid additives is not required unless the nutrient composition
content, improved oxidative stability resulting in a is significantly altered, allergenic proteins have been
reduced need for hydrogenation, reduced calories or introduced into the new food, or unique issues have been
bioavailability, creation of specific fatty acid profiles for posed which should be communicated to consumers.
particular food applications, and creative “functional” While U.S. consumers appear to have accepted
foods for the population at large or for medical purposes. biotechnology and recognize its potential benefits (e.g.,
Other applications may include increased oil yield, foods, drugs), Europeans have been less willing to
improved extraction of oil from oilseeds through enzyme embrace biotechnology due to concerns regarding the
technology, industrial production of fatty acids, and safety of genetically modified foods. The European
improved processing methods. Union requires foods containing genetically altered
Genetic engineering is a specific application of components to be labeled as such and has been very
biotechnology. This technique is also called recombinant slow in approving new genetically modified plant
DNA technology, gene splicing, or genetic modification, varieties as imports. This position has caused much
and involves removing, modifying, or adding genes to a anxiety between Europe and the U.S. from an
living organism. New plant varieties that result from agricultural trade standpoint. The prospects for
genetic engineering are referred to as transgenic plants. resolution of these differences between Europe and the
The most recognized examples in the U.S. are herbicide U.S. appear to be improving.
resistant soybeans, corn which is resistant to the As new varieties of oilseeds are developed to
European corn borer, and cotton which is resistant to the incorporate specific fatty acid components, historical
bollworm. The acceptance and utilization of these and fatty acid profiles for source oil identification will
other transgenic food crops in the U.S. have been very become less useful. A challenge for food manufacturers
rapid. For example, transgenic herbicide resistant will be how to identify these food components through
soybeans after being first introduced commercially in food labeling.
1996 on 1 million acres were planted on about 25 The age of biotechnology is here with a vast
million acres in 1998. Genetically modified insect array of improved plant varieties already commercially
resistant corn was also commercially introduced in 1996, available. The future looks bright particularly for the
and it occupied about 16 million acres in 1998. emergence of new oilseed varieties that will have
Transgenic soybeans and corn are expected to be about improved agronomic characteristics, nutrient profiles,
50% of the U.S. total planted acreage for these crops in and functionality in foods and food ingredients as well
1999. as in industrial products. It is therefore important for
Global plantings of transgenic crops are also consumers to understand the many benefits of
increasing at very rapid rates. While almost 7 million biotechnology and that the application of genetic
acres were planted internationally to transgenic crops in engineering technology to foods will render them safe,
1996, about 31.5 million acres were planted in 1997 more functional, and nutritious.
(54). All indications are that worldwide acreage will
continue to expand at a rapid pace for the next several K. Fat Reduction in Foods
years. The most popular crops as a percent of total
global acreage planted to transgenic crops are the Americans have been advised during the past
following: soybeans (40%), corn (25%), tobacco (13%), two decades by many health organizations, including the
cotton (11%), and canola (10%). The United States is the Office of the Surgeon General, American Heart
leader in agricultural applications of genetically Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and
engineered crops representing 64% of the total global Department of Health and Human Services, to reduce
acreage devoted to transgenic crops in 1997, followed by total dietary fat intake to less than 30% of calories and
saturated fat intake to less than 10% of calories. High eggs, milk, whey, soy and wheat gluten. Generally
intake of total and saturated fat has been associated with these proteins undergo a process called
increased risk of obesity and coronary heart disease. microparticulation in which they are sheared under
Healthy People 2000, a program of the U.S. heat into very small particles to impart similar
Public Health Service to promote health and prevention mouthfeel and texture as conventional fats. They are
of disease, recommended food manufacturers double the used in frozen dairy desserts, cheese baked goods,
availability of lower fat food products from 1990 to the sauces and salad dressings and may provide only 1-4
year 2000. That goal was quickly met by 1995. One of calories per gram depending on the water level
the primary methods employed by the food industry in incorporated into them.
creating newer food products containing less fat has • Carbohydrate-based fat replacers. A number of
been the use of fat replacers or fat substitutes. The carbohydrates including gums, starches, pectins and
technology used in the development of these fat cellulose have been used for many years as
replacers allows key sensory and physical attributes and thickening agents to add bulk, moisture and textural
functional characteristics of affected foods to be stability to a wide variety of foods including
maintained. puddings, sauces, soups, bakery goods, salad
Fat replacers are generally classified into three dressings and frozen desserts. Digestible
basic categories: fat-based, protein-based and carbohydrates such as modified starches and dextrins
carbohydrate-based. These categories and the most provide 4 calories per gram, while nondigestible
important examples within them are discussed below: complex carbohydrates provide virtually no calories.
In response to consumer demand of recent years,
• Fat-based substitutes. Sucrose fatty acid polyesters food manufacturers have developed a wide variety of
(SPEs) are mixtures of compounds called esters reduced fat food products utilizing fat substitutes as a
made by combining sucrose esters and fatty acids, primary method of fat reduction. Since 1990 an average
the most common example of which is olestra. of over 1,000 new low fat foods have entered the
Because of its large molecular size, olestra is not marketplace annually bearing nutrient content claims of
absorbed or metabolized by the body, thus it lowered fat (55). In 1996 the introduction of new low fat
contributes no calories to the diet. Olestra is foods reached a peak at 2,076 products. Since 1996,
currently approved by FDA as a frying medium for however, introductions of new reduced or low fat
savory snacks but has the potential to be included in products have declined to 1,405 products in 1997 and
frying oils and shortenings. 1,180 in 1998.
Sucrose fatty acid esters (SFEs) are similar to SPEs
however, their molecular size is smaller. As a result, VI. FACTORS AFFECTING PHYSICAL
they are partially or fully absorbed thus providing up CHARACTERISTICS OF FATS AND OILS
to 9 calories per gram to the diet, the same as
provided by conventional fats. SFEs are used as The physical characteristics of a fat or oil are dependent
emulsifiers and stabilizers in a wide variety of foods upon the degree of unsaturation, the length of the carbon
and as components of coatings used to retard chains, the isomeric forms of the fatty acids, molecular
spoilage of fruits. configuration, and the type and extent of processing.
Structured lipids are triglycerides which may be
made from a variety of combinations of short, A. Degree of Unsaturation of Fatty Acids
medium and long chain fatty acids. They are
primarily used to reduce the amount of fat available Food fats and oils are made up of triglyceride
for absorption, thereby reducing caloric value. molecules which may contain both saturated and
Salatrim is an example of a structured lipid which is unsaturated fatty acids. Depending on the type of fatty
partially metabolized thus providing only about 5 acids combined in the molecule, triglycerides can be
calories per gram energy. classified as mono-, di-, and triunsaturated as illustrated
• Protein-based fat replacers. These materials are below.
derived from a variety of protein sources including

Generally speaking, fats that are liquid at room C. Isomeric Forms of Fatty Acids
temperature tend to be more unsaturated than those that For a given fatty acid chain length, saturated
appear to be solid. It is not necessarily true, however, fatty acids will have higher melting points than those
that all fats which are liquid at room temperature are that are unsaturated The melting points of unsaturated
high in unsaturated fatty acids. For example, coconut oil fatty acids are profoundly affected by position and
has a high level of saturates, but many are of low conformation of the double bonds. For example, the
molecular weight, hence this oil melts at or near room monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid and its geometric
temperature. Thus, the physical state of the fat does not isomer elaidic acid have different melting points. Oleic
necessarily indicate the amount of unsaturation. acid is liquid at temperatures considerably below room
The degree of unsaturation of a fat, i.e., the temperature, whereas elaidic acid is solid even at
number of double bonds present, normally is expressed temperatures above room temperature. It is the presence
in terms of the iodine value of the fat. Iodine value is the of isomeric fatty acids in many vegetable shortenings
number of grams of iodine which will react with the and margarines that contributes substantially to the semi-
double bonds in 100 grams of fat and may be calculated solid form of these products. Thus, the presence of
from the fatty acid composition obtained by gas different geometric isomers of fatty acids influences the
chromatography. The average iodine value of physical characteristics of the fat.
unhydrogenated soybean oil is generally in the 125-140
range. A typical food service salad and cooking oil made D. Molecular Configuration of Triglycerides
from partially hydrogenated soybean oil may have an
iodine value of about 105-120. A typical semi-solid The molecular configuration of triglycerides can
household shortening made from partially hydrogenated also affect the properties of a fat or oil. Melting points of
soybean oil may have an iodine value of about 90-95. fats will vary in their sharpness depending on the
On the other hand, butterfat, which has a much lower number of different chemical entities which are present.
level of unsaturated fatty acids than most shortenings A simple triglyceride will have a sharp melting point. A
made from partially hydrogenated soybean oil, typically mixture of triglycerides, as is typical of lard and most
has an iodine value of about 30. vegetable shortenings, will have a broad melting range.
In the case of cocoa butter, the palmitic, stearic,
B. Length of Carbon Chains in Fatty Acids and oleic acids are combined in two predominant
triglyceride forms. The presence of these forms give
As the chain length of the saturated fatty acid cocoa butter its sharp melting point, just slightly below
increases, the melting point also increases (Table I). body temperature. The way cocoa butter melts is one of
Thus, a short chain saturated fatty acid such as butyric the reasons for the pleasant eating quality of chocolate.
acid has a lower melting point than saturated fatty acids A mixture of several triglycerides has a lower
with longer chains. Some of the higher molecular weight melting point than would be predicted for the mixture
unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid also have based on the melting points of the individual
relatively low melting points (Table II). The melting components. The mixture will also have a broader
properties of triglycerides are related to those of their melting range than any of its components.
fatty acids. This explains why coconut oil, which Monoglycerides and diglycerides have higher melting
contains almost 90% saturated fatty acids but with a high points than triglycerides with a similar fatty acid
proportion of relatively short chain low melting fatty composition.
acids, is a clear liquid at 80°F in contrast to lard which
contains only about 37% saturates, most with longer
chains, is semi-solid at 80ºF.
E. Polymorphism of Fats Historically, cold or hot expression methods were used.
These methods have been replaced with solvent
Solidified fats exhibit polymorphism, i.e., they extraction or pre-press/solvent extraction methods which
can exist in several different crystalline forms, give a better oil yield. In this process the oil is extracted
depending on the manner in which the molecules orient from the oilseed by hexane (a light petroleum fraction)
themselves in the solid state. The crystal forms of fats and the hexane is then separated from the oil, recovered,
can transform from lower melting to successively higher and reused. Because of its high volatility, no hexane
melting modifications. The rate of transformation and residue remains in the finished oil after processing.
the extent to which it proceeds are governed by the The fats and oils obtained directly from
molecular composition and configuration of the fat, rendering or from the extraction of the oilseeds are
crystallization conditions, and the temperature and termed “crude” fats and oils. Crude fats and oils contain
duration of storage. In general, fats containing diverse varying but relatively small amounts of naturally
assortments of molecules (such as rearranged lard) tend occurring non-glyceride materials that are removed
to remain indefinitely in lower melting crystal forms, through a series of processing steps. For example, crude
whereas fats containing a relatively limited assortment soybean oil may contain small amounts of protein, free
of molecules (such as soybean stearine) transform fatty acids, and phosphatides which must be removed
readily to higher melting crystal forms. Mechanical and through subsequent processing to produce the desired
thermal agitation during processing and storage at shortening and oil products. Similarly, meat fats may
elevated temperatures tend to accelerate the rate of contain some free fatty acids, water, and protein which
crystal transformation. The crystal form of the fat has a must be removed.
marked effect on the melting point and the performance It should be pointed out, however, that not all of
of the fat in the various applications in which it is the nonglyceride materials are undesirable elements.
utilized. Tocopherols, for example, perform the important
Food technologists apply controlled function of protecting the oils from oxidation and
polymorphic crystal formation in the preparation of provide vitamin E. Processing is carried out in such a
household shortenings and margarines. These products way as to control retention of these substances.
are predominantly partially hydrogenated soybean oil. In Partial hydrogenation is employed frequently to
order to obtain desired product plasticity, functionality, improve the stability of fats and oils and to provide
and stability, the shortening or margarine must be in a increased usefulness by imparting a semi-solid
crystalline form called “beta-prime” (a lower melting consistency to the fat for many food applications. It is
polymorph). Partially hydrogenated soybean oil tends to agreed by most nutritionists and food technologists that
crystallize in the “beta” crystal form (a higher melting the modern processing of edible fats and oils is the
polymorph). Beta-prime crystal formation is promoted in single factor most responsible for upgrading the quality
a soybean oil product through inclusion of beta-prime of the fat consumed in the U.S. diet today.
promoting fats such as hydrogenated cottonseed or palm
oils. B. Degumming
Beta-prime is a smooth, small, fine crystal
whereas beta is a large, coarse, grainy crystal. Crude oils having relatively high levels of
Shortenings and margarines are smooth and creamy phosphatides (e.g., soybean oil) may be degummed
because of the inclusion of beta-prime fats. prior to refining to remove the majority of those
phospholipid compounds. The process generally
VII. PROCESSING involves treating the crude oil with a limited amount of
water to hydrate the phosphatides and make them
A. General separable by centrifugation. Soybean oil is the most
common oil to be degummed; the phospholipids are
Food fats and oils are derived from oilseed and often recovered and further processed to yield a variety
animal sources. Animal fats are generally heat rendered of lecithin products.
from animal tissues to separate them from protein and
other naturally occurring materials. Rendering may be C. Refining
either with dry heat or with steam. Rendering and
processing of meat fats is conducted in USDA inspected The process of refining (sometimes referred to
plants. Vegetable fats are obtained by the extraction or as “alkali refining”) generally is performed on vegetable
the expression of the oil from the oilseed source. oils to reduce the free fatty acid content and to remove
other gross impurities such as phosphatides, F. Fractionation (Including Winterization)
proteinaceous, and mucilaginous substances. By far the
most important and widespread method of refining is the Fractionation is the removal of solids by
treatment of the fat or oil with an alkali solution. This controlled crystallization and separation techniques
results in a large reduction of free fatty acids through involving the use of solvents or dry processing. Dry
their conversion into water-soluble soaps. Most fractionation encompasses both winterization and
phosphatides and mucilaginous substances are soluble in pressing techniques and is the most widely practiced
the oil only in an anhydrous form and upon hydration form of fractionation. It relies upon the differences in
with the caustic or other refining solution are readily melting points and triglyceride solubility to separate the
separated. Oils low in phosphatide content (palm and oil fractions.
coconut) may be physically refined (i.e., steam stripped) Winterization is a process whereby material is
to remove free fatty acids. After alkali refining, the fat or crystallized and removed from the oil by filtration to
oil is water-washed to remove residual soap. avoid clouding of the liquid fraction at cooler
temperatures. The term winterization was originally
D. Bleaching applied decades ago when cottonseed oil was subjected
to winter temperatures to accomplish this process.
The term “bleaching” refers to the process for Winterization processes using temperature to control
removing color producing substances and for further crystallization are continued today on several oils. A
purifying the fat or oil. Normally, bleaching is similar process called dewaxing is utilized to clarify oils
accomplished after the oil has been refined. containing trace amounts of clouding constituents.
The usual method of bleaching is by adsorption Pressing is a fractionation process sometimes
of the color producing substances on an adsorbent used to separate liquid oils from solid fat. This process
material. Acid-activated bleaching earth or clay, presses the liquid oil from the solid fraction by hydraulic
sometimes called bentonite, is the adsorbent material pressure or vacuum filtration. This process is used
that has been used most extensively. This substance commercially to produce hard butters and specialty fats
consists primarily of hydrated aluminum silicate. from oils such as palm and palm kernel.
Anhydrous silica gel and activated carbon also are used Solvent fractionation is the term used to describe
as bleaching adsorbents to a limited extent. a process for the crystallization of a desired fraction
from a mixture of triglycerides dissolved in a suitable
E. Deodorization solvent. Fractions may be selectively crystallized at
different temperatures after which the fractions are
Deodorization is a vacuum steam distillation separated and the solvent removed. Solvent fractionation
process for the purpose of removing trace constituents is practiced commercially to produce hard butters,
that give rise to undesirable flavors, colors and odors in specialty oils, and some salad oils from a wide array of
fats and oils. Normally this process is accomplished after edible oils.
refining and bleaching.
The deodorization of fats and oils is simply a G. Hydrogenation
removal of the relatively volatile components from the
fat or oil using steam. This is feasible because of the Hydrogenation is the process by which hydrogen
great differences in volatility between the substances that is added directly to points of unsaturation in the fatty
give flavors, colors and odors to fats and oils and the acids. Hydrogenation of fats has developed as a result of
triglycerides. Deodorization is carried out under vacuum the need to (1) convert liquid oils to the semi-solid form
to facilitate the removal of the volatile substances, to for greater utility in certain food uses and (2) increase
avoid undue hydrolysis of the fat, and to make the most the oxidative and thermal stability of the fat or oil.
efficient use of the steam. Hydrogenation is an extremely important
Deodorization does not have any significant process as far as our food supply is concerned, because
effect upon the fatty acid composition of most fats or this processing imparts the desired stability and other
oils. In the case of vegetable oils, sufficient tocopherols properties to many edible oil products. The level of
remain in the finished oils after deodorization to provide unsaturated fatty acids present in some oils such as
stability. soybean oil is reduced in order for the oils to have
functional properties in many food applications.
Hydrogenation is the only practical way to impart these
In the process of hydrogenation, hydrogen gas is H. Interesterification
reacted with oil at elevated temperature and pressure in
the presence of a catalyst. The catalyst most widely used Another process used by oil processors permits a
is nickel supported on an inert carrier which is removed rearrangement or a redistribution of the fatty acids on the
from the fat after the hydrogenation processing is glycerol fragment of the molecule. This process, referred
completed. Under these conditions, the gaseous to as interesterification, is accomplished by catalytic
hydrogen reacts with the double bonds of the unsaturated methods at relatively low temperature. Under some
fatty acids as illustrated below: conditions the fatty acids are distributed in a more
random manner than they were present originally. Other
conditions permit the rearrangement process to direct the
fatty acid distribution to an extent that allows further
modification of shortening properties to be obtained. The
rearrangement process does not change the degree of
unsaturation or the isomeric state of the fatty acids as
they transfer in their entirety from one position to
Lard in its natural state possesses a very narrow
temperature range over which it has good consistency
The hydrogenation process is easily controlled for practical use in the kitchen. At slightly above normal
and can be stopped at any desired point. As room temperature, ordinary lard becomes somewhat
hydrogenation progresses, there is generally a gradual softer than desirable, and at temperatures slightly lower,
increase in the melting point of the fat or oil. If the it becomes somewhat firmer than is desirable.
hydrogenation of cottonseed or soybean oil, for example, Molecularly rearranged lard shortenings have a
is stopped after only a small amount of hydrogenation satisfactory consistency over a much wider temperature
has taken place, the oils remain liquid. These partially range.
hydrogenated oils are typically used to produce The predominant commercial application for
institutional cooking oils, liquid shortenings and liquid interesterification in the US is the production of
margarines. Further hydrogenation can produce soft but specialty fats for the confectionery and vegetable dairy
solid appearing fats which still contain appreciable industries. This process permits further tailoring of
amounts of unsaturated fatty acids and are used in solid triglyceride properties to achieve the required steep
shortenings and margarines. When oils are more fully melting curves.
hydrogenated, many of the carbon to carbon double
bonds are converted to single bonds increasing the level I. Esterification
of saturation. This conversion also affects trans fatty
acids eliminating them from fully hydrogenated fats. If For the most part, fatty acids are present in
an oil is hydrogenated completely, the carbon to carbon nature in the form of esters and are consumed as such.
double bonds are eliminated completely and the Triglycerides, the predominant constituents of fats and
resulting product is a hard brittle solid at room oils, are examples of esters. When consumed and
temperature. digested, fats are hydrolyzed initially to diglycerides and
The hydrogenation conditions can be varied by monoglycerides which are also esters. Carried to
the manufacturer to meet certain physical and chemical completion, these esters are hydrolyzed to glycerol and
characteristics desired in the finished product. This is fatty acids. In the reverse process, esterification, an
achieved through selection of the proper temperature, alcohol such as glycerol is reacted with an acid such as a
pressure, time, catalyst, and starting oils. Both positional fatty acid to form an ester such as mono-, di-, and
and geometric (trans) isomers are formed to some extent triglycerides. In an alternative esterification process,
during hydrogenation, the amounts depending on the called alcoholysis, an alcohol such as glycerol is reacted
conditions employed. with fat or oil to produce esters such as mono- and
Biological hydrogenation of polyunsaturated diglycerides. Using the foregoing esterification
fatty acids occurs in some animal organisms, particularly processes, edible acids, fats, and oils can be reacted with
in ruminants. This accounts for the presence of some edible alcohols to produce useful food ingredients that
trans isomers that occur in the tissues and milk of include many of the emulsifiers listed in the following
ruminants. section.

J. Emulsifiers emulsification. These include aeration, starch and
protein complexing, hydration, crystal modification,
Many foods are processed and/or consumed as solubilization, and dispersion. Typical examples of
emulsions, which are dispersions of immiscible liquids emulsifiers and the characteristics they impart to food
such as water and oil, e.g., milk, mayonnaise, ice cream, are listed in Table III.
icings, and sausage. Emulsifiers, either present naturally Emulsifiers must be sanctioned for use by the
in one or more of the ingredients or added separately, Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency
provide emulsion stability. Lack of stability results in provides guidelines for industry usage as GRAS
separation of the oil and water phases. Some emulsifiers (generally recognized as safe) or regulated food
also provide valuable functional attributes in addition to additives.

Emulsifier Characteristic Processed Food
Mono-diglycerides Emulsification of water in oil Margarine
Anti-staling or softening Bread and rolls
Prevention of oil separation Peanut butter

Lecithin Viscosity control and wetting Chocolate

Anti-spattering and anti-sticking Margarine

Lactylated mono-diglycerides Aeration Batters (cake)

Gloss enhancement Confectionery coating

Polyglycerol esters Crystallization promoter Sugar syrup

Aeration Icings and cake batters

Sucrose fatty acid esters Emulsification Bakery products

Sodium steroyl lactylate (SSL) Aeration, dough conditioner, Bread and rolls
Calcium steroyl lactylate (CSL) stabilizer

K. Additives and Processing Aids production to time of consumption. When addition

provides a technical effect in the end-use product, the
Manufacturers may add low levels of approved material added is considered a direct additive. Such
food additives to fats and oils to protect their quality in usage must comply with FDA regulations governing
processing, storage, handling, and shipping of finished levels, mode of addition, and product labeling. Typical
products. This insures quality maintenance from time of examples of industry practice are listed in Table IV.

Table IV
Additive Effect Provided
Tocopherols Antioxidant, retards oxidative rancidity
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)

Carotene (pro-vitamin A) Color additive, enhances color of finished foods

Methyl silicone (dimethylpolysiloxane) Inhibits oxidation tendency and foaming of fats and oils
during frying

Diacetyl Provides buttery odor and flavor to fats and oils

Lecithin Water scavenger to prevent lipolytic rancidity

Citric acid Metal chelating agents, inhibit metal-catalyzed oxidative

Phosphoric acid breakdown

When addition is made to achieve a technical effects are listed in Table V. Use of processing aids also
effect during processing, shipping, or storage and must comply with federal regulations which specify
followed by removal or reduction to an insignificant good manufacturing practices and acceptable residual
level, the material added is considered to be a processing levels.
aid. Typical examples of processing aids and provided

Aid Effect Mode of Removal
Sodium hydroxide Refining aid Acid neutralization

Carbon/clay (diatomaceous Bleaching aid Filtration

Nickel Hydrogenation catalyst Filtration

Sodium methoxide Rearrangement catalyst Water or acid neutralization,

filtration, and deodorization

Phosphoric acid Refining acids, metal chelators Neutralization with base,

Citric acid filtration, or water washing

Acetone Crystallization media for Solvent stripping and

Hexane fractionation of fats and oils deodorization
Nitrogen Oxygen replacement Diffusion

Polyglycerol esters Crystallization modification None

Silica hydrogel Adsorbent Filtration

Sodium lauryl sulfate Fractionation aid, wetting agent Washing and centrifugation
VIII. REACTIONS OF FATS AND OILS animals because they can affect food consumption under
ad libitum feeding conditions and reduce the vitamin
A. Hydrolysis of Fats content of the food. If the diet has become unpalatable
due to excessive oxidation of the fat component and is
Like other esters, glycerides can be hydrolyzed not accepted by the animal, a lack of growth by the
readily. Partial hydrolysis of triglycerides will yield animal could be due to its unwillingness to consume the
mono- and diglycerides and fatty acids. When the diet. Thus, the experimental results might be attributed
hydrolysis is carried to completion with water in the unwittingly to the type of fat or other nutrient being
presence of an acid catalyst, the mono-, di-, and studied rather than to the condition of the ration.
triglycerides will hydrolyze to yield glycerol and fatty Knowing the oxidative condition of unsaturated fats is
acids. With aqueous sodium hydroxide, glycerol and the extremely important in biochemical and nutritional
sodium salts of the component fatty acids (soaps) are studies with animals.
obtained. In the digestive tracts of humans and animals
and in bacteria, fats are hydrolyzed by enzymes 2. Oxidation at Higher Temperatures.
(lipases). Lypolytic enzymes are present in some edible Although the rate of oxidation is greatly accelerated at
oil sources (i.e., palm fruit, coconut). Any residues of higher temperatures, oxidative reactions which occur at
these lipolytic enzymes present in some crude fats and higher temperatures may not follow precisely the same
oils are deactivated by the temperatures used in oil routes and mechanisms as the reactions at room
processing, so enzymatic hydrolysis is unlikely in temperatures. Thus, differences in the stability of fats
refined fats and oils. and oils often become more apparent when the fats are
used for frying or slow baking. The more unsaturated the
B. Oxidation of Fats fat or oil, the greater will be its susceptibility to
oxidative rancidity. Predominantly unsaturated oils such
1. Autoxidation. Of particular interest in as soybean, cottonseed, or corn oil are less stable than
the food field is the process of oxidation induced by air predominantly saturated oils such as coconut oil.
at room temperature referred to as “autoxidation.” Methylsilicone often is added to institutional frying fats
Ordinarily, this is a slow process which occurs only to a and oils to reduce oxidation tendency and foaming at
limited degree. In autoxidation, oxygen reacts with elevated temperatures. Frequently, partial hydrogenation
unsaturated fatty acids. Initially, peroxides are formed is employed in the processing of liquid vegetable oil to
which in turn break down to hydrocarbons, ketones, increase the stability of the oil. Also oxidative stability
aldehydes, and smaller amounts of epoxides and has been increased in many of the oils developed
alcohols. Heavy metals present at low levels in fats and through biotechnological engineering. The stability of a
oils can promote autoxidation. Fats and oils often are fat or oil may be predicted to some degree by the
treated with chelating agents such as citric acid (see oxidative stability index (OSI).
Tables IV and V) to inactivate heavy metals.
The result of the autoxidation of fats and oils is C. Polymerization of Fats
the development of objectionable flavors and odors
characteristic of the condition known as “oxidative All commonly used fats and particularly those
rancidity.” Some fats resist this change to a remarkable high in polyunsaturated fatty acids tend to form some
extent while others are more susceptible depending on larger molecules known broadly as polymers when
the degree of unsaturation, the presence of antioxidants, heated under extreme conditions of temperature and
and other factors. The presence of light, for example, time. Under normal processing and cooking conditions
increases the rate of oxidation. It is a common practice in polymers are formed in insignificant quantities.
the industry to protect fats and oils from oxidation to Although the polymerization process is not understood
preserve their acceptable flavor and shelf life. completely, it is believed that polymers in fats and oils
When rancidity has progressed significantly, it is arise by formation of either carbon to carbon bonds or
apparent from the flavor and odor of the oil. Expert oxygen bridges between molecules. When an
tasters are able to detect the development of rancidity in appreciable amount of polymer is present, there is a
its early stages. The peroxide value determination, if marked increase in viscosity. Animal studies have shown
used judiciously, may be helpful in measuring the degree that any polymers that may be present in a fat or oil are
of oxidative rancidity in the fat. absorbed poorly from the intestinal tract and are excreted
It has been found that oxidatively abused fats as such in the feces.
can complicate nutritional and biochemical studies in
D. Reactions during Heating and Cooking increased free fatty acid content resulting in a lowering
of the smoke, flash and fire points. Accordingly used oil
Glycerides are subject to chemical reactions freshened with new oil will show an increased smoke,
(oxidation, polymerization, hydrolysis) which can occur flash and free points. For additional details see Bailey’s
particularly during deep fat frying. The extent of these Industrial Oil and Fat Products (56).
reactions, which may be reflected as a decrease in iodine It is important to note that all oils will burn if
value of the fat and an increase in free fatty acids, overheated. This is why most household fat and oil
depends on the frying conditions, principally the products for cooking carry a warning statement on their
temperature, aeration, and duration. The composition of labels about potential fire hazards. Accordingly, careful
a frying fat also may be affected by the kind of food attention must be given to all frying operations. When
being fried. For example, when frying high fat foods heating fat, do not leave the pan unattended. The
such as chicken, some fat from the food will be rendered continuous generation of smoke from a frying pan or
and blend with the frying fat and some frying fat will be deep fryer is a good indication that the fat is being
absorbed by the food. In this manner the fatty acid overheated and could ignite if high heating continues. If
composition of the frying fat will change as frying smoke is observed during a frying operation, the heat
progresses. Since absorption of fat by the fried food may should be reduced. If, however, the contents of the
be extensive, it is often necessary to replenish the fryer frying pan do ignite, extinguish the fire by covering the
with fresh fat. This replacement with fresh fat tends to pan immediately with a lid or by spraying it only with an
dilute overall compositional changes of the fat during appropriate fire extinguisher. Do not attempt to remove a
prolonged frying. Frying conditions do not, however, burning pan of oil from the stove. Allow the covered
saturate the unsaturated fatty acids, although the ratio of frying container to cool. Under no circumstances should
saturated to unsaturated fatty acids will change due to burning fat be dumped into a kitchen sink or sprayed
some polymerization of unsaturated fatty acids. with water.
It is the usual practice to discard frying fat when Furthermore, if a consumer wishes to save the
(1) prolonged frying causes excessive foaming of the hot fat or oil after cooking, the hot fat or oil should never be
fat, (2) the fat tends to smoke excessively, usually from poured back into its original container. Most containers
prolonged frying with low fat turnover, or (3) an for cooking oils are not designed to withstand the high
undesirable flavor or dark color develops. Any or all of temperatures reached by the oil during cooking. Pouring
these qualities associated with the fat can decrease the hot oil into such containers could result in breakage or
quality of the fried food. melting of the container and possible burns to the user.
The “smoke,” “flash,” and “fire points” of a Considerable work has been done studying the
fatty material are standard measures of its thermal effects of elevated temperatures on the composition and
stability when heated in contact with air. The smoke biological qualities of edible fats and oils. Much of this
point is the temperature at which smoke is first detected work has been done with temperatures and other
in a laboratory apparatus protected from drafts and conditions which simulated those experienced in
provided with special illumination. The temperature at commercial deep frying operations, such as in
which the fat smokes freely is usually somewhat higher. restaurants or food processing establishments. Other
The flash point is the temperature at which the volatile studies, however, have exposed the foods to exaggerated
products are evolved at such a rate that they are capable conditions that are unrealistic and not indicative of
of being ignited but not capable of supporting actual use conditions. Under these unrealistic conditions,
combustion. The fire point is the temperature at which some substances are formed in small amounts that when
the volatile products will support continued combustion. isolated and fed at concentrated levels can be shown to
For typical fats with a free fatty acid content of about be toxic to laboratory animals. The practical significance
0.05%, the smoke, flash, and fire points are around 420º, of these observations was defined more clearly in a two-
620º, and 670º F, respectively. The degree of year animal feeding study by Nolen et al (57). This work
unsaturation of an oil has little, if any, effect on its showed that animals consuming used typical frying fats
smoke, flash, or fire points. Oils containing fatty acids of as the sole source of fat in the diet throughout their life
low molecular weight such as coconut oil, however, span thrived equally as well as control animals
have lower smoke, flash, and fire points than other consuming the same fat that had not been subjected to
animal or vegetable fats of comparable free fatty acid frying conditions. Clark, et al. also have reviewed the
content. Oils subjected to extended use will have nutritional aspects of heated fats (58).

IX. PRODUCTS PREPARED FROM FATS include both retail and commercial availability of each
AND OILS fat or oil. It also should be recognized that the table does
not include invisible fats, i.e., those consumed as part of
A. General meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and other foods
(see Table X). Several vegetable oils of lesser
A wide variety of products based on edible fats importance in the U.S. but available in some products
and oils is available to the consuming public. include rice bran, shea nut, illipe, sal, almond, and
Shortenings, margarines, spreads, butter, salad and avocado. The typical fatty acid composition of the
cooking oils, mayonnaise, salad dressing, French, principal vegetable oils and animal fats used for food
Italian, and other specialty salad dressings, and purposes in the U.S. is given in Table VII.
confectioners’ coatings are some of the widely available The typical fatty acid composition of oils
products that are based entirely on fats and oils or derived from biotechnological means generally tend to
contain fat or oil as a principal ingredient. Many of these be higher in monounsaturates (e.g., oleic acid) to reduce
products also are sold in commercial quantities to food the need for hydrogenation as a stabilizing process.
processors, snack food manufacturers, bakeries, Other genetically modified oils have less saturates (e.g.,
restaurants, and institutions. palmitic) or less polyunsaturates (e.g., linolenic)
Dietary fats have been categorized as “visible” depending on the end use of the oil. Genetically
and “invisible” sources of fat. Visible fats are defined for modified oils of the future will likely have customized
statistical reporting purposes as those that have been fatty acid composition to meet specific applications.
isolated from animal tissues, oilseeds, or vegetable The ingredient statement of a packaged food
sources, and are used in such products as shortening, product lists the source oils (along with all other
margarine, and salad oil. These fats and oils comprise ingredients) which are or may be present in the product.
about 43% of the total fat available for consumption in All ingredients are listed in descending order of
the U.S. diet. Invisible fats are those that have not been predominance. Current FDA labeling regulations state
isolated from the animal tissues, oilseeds, or vegetable that if a fat or oil is the predominant ingredient of a food
sources, and are consumed as part of the animal tissues product (e.g., salad and cooking oil, shortening, or
or the vegetables in the diet. These comprise the margarine), the actual source oil used must be shown on
remaining 57% of the fat available for consumption in the product label. However, for foods in which a fat or
the U.S. diet. oil is not the predominant ingredient (e.g., baked
The contribution of the major sources of visible products or snack foods) and for which a manufacturer
fat or oil consumed in this country and the amount of may wish to substitute one oil for another depending on
each available for consumption in various food products commodity prices and availability, the manufacturer is
are provided in Table VI. The data given in Table VI permitted to list the alternative oils that may be present.

(million pounds)

Source Oils: (Baking and Frying Fats) Margarine Salad and Cooking Oil Totals
Fiscal Year 70/71 80/81 90/91 95/96 70/71 80/81 90/91 95/96 70/71 80/81 90/91 95/96 70/71 80/81 90/91 95/96
Vegetable Oils
Soybean 2,077 2,675 4,090 4,702 1,381 1,666 1,811 1,699 2,288 4,226 4,693 5,317 5,780 8,610 10,722 11,877
Canola -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 211 -- -- -- 319
Corn D D 304 82 188 217 195 79 202 383 589 434 403 624 1,143 595
Cottonseed 194 132 272 218 64 27 D D 479 382 438 235 805 555 777 497
Palm 143 215 D D -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 160 291 98 D
Coconut -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 220 338 169 221
Peanut -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 156 105 129 D 181 119 129 129
Sunflower -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 79 166 90

Meat Fats
Edible Tallow 496 730 498 335 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 508 740 501 341
4 4 4 4
Lard 509 328 277 266 154 95 39 33 -- -- -- -- 1,612 415 314 297

Total Vegetable
and Meat Fats 3,599 4,224 5,793 5,603 1,792 2,022 2,168 1,811 3,402 5,280 6,222 6,197 9,669 11,908 14,491 14,366

May include other edible uses besides shortening, margarine, and salad and cooking oil
D - Withheld to avoid disclosing figures for individual companies.
Data on usage in specific product categories unavailable
Includes lard and edible tallow.
Components do not add to totals due to rounding, avoiding disclosures , and not including minor oils (e.g., safflower) in product categories

Source: Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Table VII
(% of total fatty acids)








Oil or Fat 4:0 6:0 8:0 10:0 12:0 14:0 16:0 18:0 20:0 16:1 18:1 20:1 18:2 18:3
Soybean oil 11 4 24 54 7
Corn oil 11 2 28 58 1
Cottonseed oil 1 22 3 1 19 54 1
Palm oil 1 45 4 40 10
Peanut oil 11 2 1 48 2 32
Olive oil 13 3 1 1 71 10 1
Canola oil 4 2 62 22 10
Safflower oil 7 2 13 78
Sunflower oil 7 5 19 68 1
Mid oleic sunflower oil 4 5 65 26
Coconut oil 1 8 6 47 18 9 3 6 2
Palm kernel oil 3 4 48 16 8 3 15 2
Cocoa butter 26 34 1 34 3
Butterfat 4 2 1 3 3 11 27 12 2 29 2 1
Lard 2 26 14 3 44 1 10
Beef tallow4 3 24 19 4 43 3 1

Fatty acid composition data determined by gas-liquid chromatography and provided by member companies of the Institute of Shortening and Edible
Oils, Inc. Fatty acids (designated as number of carbon atoms: number of double bonds) occurring in trace amounts are excluded. Component fatty
acids may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Peanut oil typically contains C22:0 plus C24:0 at 4-5% of total fatty acids.
Butterfat typically contains C15:0 plus C17:0 at about 3% of total fatty acids.
Beef tallow typically contains C15:0 plus C17:0 at about 2% and C14:1 plus C17:1 at about 2% of total fatty acids.

B. Salad and Cooking Oils biotechnology applications, has resulted in a wide

variety of new oils that may be used as salad and
Salad and cooking oils are prepared from cooking oils. These newer oils include high oleic canola,
vegetable oils that are refined, bleached, deodorized, and safflower, soybean and sunflower oils, low linolenic
sometimes dewaxed or lightly hydrogenated and canola and soybean oils, mid oleic sunflower oil, and
winterized. Soybean and corn oil are the principal oils linola oil. When soybean oil is processed into salad and
sold in this form, although cottonseed, peanut, safflower, cooking oil intended for household use, a refined,
sunflower, canola and olive oil also are used. Advanced bleached, and deodorized oil often is suitable. This is
plant breeding technology, much of which includes because under the usual conditions of handling (e.g., the
oil is not reused for cooking) and storage, the linolenic the manufacture of hydrogenated shortenings,
acid naturally present in the oil is not highly susceptible considerable flexibility is possible providing a wide
to oxidation which might produce undesirable odors and choice of finished product characteristics.
flavors in the oil. On the other hand, if the oil is intended Research findings of the past 30 years have
for use as a cooking oil for applications involving suggested the advisability of increasing the level of
prolonged and repeated heating (e.g., in restaurants), polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet. As a result the
hydrogenation or blending with other oils usually is manufacturers of household vegetable shortenings have
desirable to improve stability. provided such products containing a polyunsaturated
fatty acid range of 3-15%.
C. Shortenings (Baking and Frying Fats) Lard and other animal fats and mixtures of
animal and vegetable fats also are used in shortening.
Shortenings are fats used in the preparation of Mixtures of animal and vegetable fats frequently are
many foods. Because they impart a “short” or tender hydrogenated to some extent to obtain the physical
quality to baked goods, they are called shortenings. For characteristics desired. Lard is sometimes used in
many years, lard and other animal fats were the principal commercial applications such as in the baking of pastry
edible fats used in shortenings in this country, but during and bread.
the last third of the nineteenth century they were Liquid shortenings have become increasingly
replaced by cottonseed oil, a by-product of the cotton popular among food service facilities over the past two
industry. Many types of vegetable oils including decades due to their desired pourability in replenishing
soybean, cottonseed, corn, sunflower, and palm can be deep fat fryers. These lightly hydrogenated shortenings
used in shortening products. (See Table VI.) usually have polyunsaturated fatty acid contents ranging
Hydrogenated shortenings may be made from a from 25-50%. These products also have been used in
single hydrogenated fat, but are usually made from a some commercial baking and frying applications.
blend of two or more hydrogenated fats. For example, Table VIII gives the ranges in fatty acid
partially hydrogenated cottonseed or palm oil may be composition for typical household and food service
blended with partially hydrogenated soybean oil for shortening products made from all vegetable fat or from
improved performance properties, such as creamy animal/vegetable fat blends. The composition ranges
consistency and good storage stability. The conditions given for both types of shortening are based on
and extent of hydrogenation may be varied for each information available for products in broad distribution
source oil to achieve the characteristics desired. Thus, in in the U.S.

Table VIII

% of Total Fatty Acids

Type of Shortening Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated Saturated
All vegetable fat 45-65 3-15 22-30
Animal/vegetable fat blend 45-51 3-10 30-50

D. Hard Butters 1. Cocoa Butter Equivalents have physicochemical

characteristics similar to cocoa butter. They are
The term hard butter describes a collection of derived from fats like illipe or kokum and fractions
specialty fats that are designed to either replace or of shea, palm, or sal. They are highly compatible
extend cocoa butter (cocoa butter alternatives) and/or with cocoa butter.
butterfat. They are used primarily in confectionery and 2. Cocoa Butter Substitutes are predominantly lauric
vegetable dairy applications and are generally based and may involve processing techniques like
characterized by a steep melting profile. hydrogenation, interesterification and fractionation.
Cocoa butter alternative fats are often placed They exhibit an extremely limited compatibility with
into one of three categories: cocoa butter.

3. Cocoa Butter Replacers are formulated from non- Margarine and spreads are available in stick, tub,
lauric fats (palm, soybean, cottonseed, etc.) that have liquid and spray forms. They may be formulated from
been subjected to partial hydrogenation or a vegetable oils and/or animal fats, however, the vast
combination of the former and fractionation. They preponderance of such products are made from vegetable
can tolerate as much as 25% cocoa butter, depending oils.
upon the product. The fat in margarine and spreads may be
prepared from a wide variety of fat combinations and
E. Margarine and Spreads may be the result of several processes. The more
common preparations used include blends of
Margarine and spreads are prepared by blending hydrogenated fat(s) and unhydrogenated oils(s), blends
fats and/or oils with other ingredients such as water of two or more hydrogenated fats, a single hydrogenated
and/or milk products, suitable edible proteins, salt, fat or a blend of liquid unhydrogenated oil interesterified
flavoring and coloring materials and Vitamins A and D. with a fully saturated fat. Table IX provides the range in
Margarine must contain at least 80% fat by federal fatty acid composition for various types of margarine
regulation, however, “diet” margarines and spreads may and spread products currently available in the retail
contain 0-80% fat. market.

% of Total Fatty Acids
Product Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated Saturated
Stick margarine - all vegetable 30-55 12-35 15-21
- animal & vegetable 46-52 9-19 29-40
Tub Type spreads1 - all vegetable 30-50 25-45 10-19
Butterfat2 25-33 1-4 63-70

Spreads are margarine-like products containing less than 80% fat. (Currently the average fat content is 54%.)
Butterfat contains about 0.2-0.4% arachidonic acid. The data for saturated fatty acids include the contributions of C4, C6, C8,
and C10 saturated fatty acids, which represent about 10% of total fatty acids.

F. Butter solid fatty foods that by federal regulation must contain

not less than 65% and 30% vegetable oil, respectively,
Butter must contain not less than 80% by weight and dried whole eggs or egg yolks. Salt, sugar, spices,
of butterfat. The butterfat in the product serves as a seasoning, vinegar, lemon juice, and other ingredients
plastic matrix enclosing an aqueous phase consisting of complete these products.
water, casein, minerals, and other soluble milk solids. 2. Pourable-Type Dressings. The pourable
These solids usually constitute about 1% of the weight dressings may be two phase (e.g., vinegar and oil) or the
of the butter. Frequently, salt is added at levels from 1.5- emulsified viscous type (e.g., French). There is a great
3.0% of the weight of the product. Butter is an important variety of products available of varying compositions
source of vitamin A, and to a lesser extent, of vitamin D. with a wide range in their oil content. Italian, French and
Butterfat, like other fats and oils, is comprised of Roquefort types are representative of this class. A
triglycerides, but is characterized by the fact that a federal standard for French dressing requires a vegetable
substantial portion of the fatty acids are relatively short oil content of not less than 35%. Some other ingredients
chain saturated acids. The fatty acid composition for that may be used in the preparation of the pourable
typical butterfat is given in Tables VII and IX. dressings are salt, sugar, emulsifiers, spices, seasonings,
and acidifying agents, such as vinegar, citric acid, lemon
G. Dressings for Food or lime juice.
3. Reduced Calorie Dressings. The current
1. Mayonnaise and Salad Dressing. interest to reduce caloric intake as a means of weight
Mayonnaise and salad dressing are emulsified, semi- control has resulted in the introduction of a wide variety
of products containing fewer or no calories. “Reduced” per capita fat consumption increased 5.2 pounds over the
calorie products contain at least 25% fewer calories than period 1970 to 1994. During this same time period the
the conventional products and are achieved primarily by per capita consumption of visible fats (i.e., contained in
substituting carbohydrates and water for fat. foods added to the diet) has increased by 16.0 pounds
4. Reduced Fat, Low Fat, and Fat Free while that of invisible fats (i.e., naturally occurring in
Dressings. In order to satisfy consumer demand for foods) decreased by 9.8 pounds. Most of the decline in
reduced fat foods, the food industry has developed a invisible fats consumption has been attributable to a
wide array of dressings, which have been reduced in fat decrease in fat consumed in meat, poultry and fish from
content. In accordance with regulatory standards, 42.8 to 31.3 pounds during the same time period. This is
dressings containing 3 grams or less fat per serving may thought to be the result of consumers reducing red meat
be described as “low fat”, whereas a dressing containing intake, selecting leaner red meat cuts, and consuming
25% less fat than the conventional dressing may be more fish and poultry which contain relatively lower
declared as “reduced fat.” Other dressings containing amounts of fat. The per capita increase in visible fat
less than 0.5 gram fat per serving may be described as consumption has been largely the result of increased
“fat free” or “containing no fat.” salad and cooking oil consumption. This increase is
probably the result of greater consumption of fried foods
H. Toppings, Coffee Whiteners, Confectioners in food service establishments and increased use of salad
Coatings, and Other Formulated Foods oils on salads consumed both away from and at home.
The increasing consumption of foods away from
Vegetable fats are used in a variety of the home is significantly affecting the intake of certain
convenience foods such as nondairy toppings, coffee nutrients, particularly fat. Lin et al (59), found that in
whiteners, and party dips, as well as confectioners’ 1977-78 fat from both home and away-from-home foods
coatings for soft cakes and candy. Cocoa butter, palm provided 41% of calories consumed. By 1995 foods
kernel oil, and hydrogenated coconut oil are used eaten at home contributed only 31.5% of calories from
extensively because of their physical characteristics. fat whereas foods eaten away-from-home contributed
37.6% of calories from fat. While this trend clearly
shows a significant reduction in overall dietary fat, it
I. Lipids for Special Nutritional Applications indicates away-from-home foods have shown smaller
reductions in fat compared to at-home meals.
In recent years special lipids referred to as Among visible fats in the diet, vegetable fats
“medium chain triglycerides” (MCT) containing C6 to experienced a 44% increase in per capita consumption
C10 saturated fatty acids have been used in particular from 1970 (38.5 pounds) to 1997 (55.4 pounds)
clinical applications. Certain modifications of MCTs are compared to a 27% decrease in animal fats consumption
soluble in both oil and water systems and are (14.1 pounds in 1970 vs. 10.3 pounds in 1997) (Table
metabolized more rapidly than conventional fats and X). This dietary trend reflects the substitution of
oils. Whereas conventional fats and oils are absorbed vegetable fats for animal fats over the past three decades.
slowly and transported via the lymphatic system, MCTs These changes are also reflected in the levels of specific
are absorbed relatively quickly and transported via the fatty acids in the diet. Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake
portal system. Because of their unique ability to pass per capita increased 15% from 1970 to 1994 (27
through the intestinal epithelium directly into the portal g/person/day vs. 31 g/person/day), monounsaturated
system, MCTs have become the standard lipid used in fatty acid intake experienced little change, and saturated
the treatment of various fat malabsorption syndromes. fatty acid intake decreased by about 15% (61
Other MCT applications include their use as rapidly g/person/day in 1970 vs. 52 g/person/day in 1994) (ERS,
available energy sources for patients with intestinal USDA, 1998).
resection or short bowel syndrome and for premature Baking and frying fats (shortening) experienced
infants. In certain liquid formula diets and intravenous a modest increase in per capita consumption of almost
fluids, MCTs may be combined in varying proportions 21% between 1970 and 1997. Fats from margarines and
with corn oil, soybean oil, or safflower oil. spreads, butter, and “other” foods such as coffee
whiteners, confections and non-dairy toppings have all
X. TRENDS IN FAT CONSUMPTION experienced respective reductions in per capita
consumption of 21%, 23% and 52% during the same
The trends of food fat consumption (availability) time period.
in the U.S. since 1970 are summarized in Table X. Total
(pounds per person)

Sources by Food Group 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
Visible Fats (added fats)
Butter2 4.3 3.8 3.6 3.9 3.8 3.5 3.8 3.7 3.9 3.6 3.5 3.3
Margarine and Spreads2,3 8.7 8.8 9.0 8.6 8.7 8.5 8.8 8.9 7.9 7.4 7.3 6.9
Lard4 4.6 3.2 2.6 1.8 1.9 1.7 1.7 1.7 2.3 2.2 2.3 2.3
Edible Tallow4,5 -- -- 1.1 1.9 0.5 1.4 2.4 2.2 2.4 2.7 3.0 3.4
Baking and Frying Fats (shortening) 17.3 17.0 18.2 22.9 22.2 22.4 22.4 25.1 24.1 22.5 22.3 20.9
Salad and Cooking Oils 15.4 17.9 21.2 23.6 24.8 26.7 27.2 26.8 26.3 26.9 26.1 28.3
Other6 2.3 2.0 1.5 1.6 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.1
(Total Fat Content)
Animal Source 14.1 10.8 12.3 13.3 9.7 9.7 10.6 10.5 11.4 11.3 11.1 10.3
Vegetable Source 38.5 41.9 44.8 50.9 53.1 55.7 56.8 59.7 57.2 55.5 54.7 55.4
Total Visible Fats 52.6 52.6 57.2 64.3 62.8 65.4 67.4 70.2 68.6 66.9 65.8 65.6

Invisible Fats (naturally occuring)7

Dairy Products (excluding butter) 15.6 14.9 14.9 15.7 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 15.7 -- -- --
Eggs 3.5 3.2 3.1 2.9 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.7 2.7 -- -- --
Meat, Poultry, Fish 42.8 37.3 39.0 37.2 33.5 30.5 31.1 30.8 31.3 -- -- --
Fruits and Vegerables 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.3 -- -- --
Legumes, Nuts, Soy 4.2 4.6 3.8 5.0 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.8 4.6 -- -- --
Grains 1.9 1.8 1.8 2.0 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.7 2.8 -- -- --
Miscellaneous8 2.1 1.9 2.0 2.6 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.0 2.9 -- -- --
(Total Fat Content)
Animal Source 61.9 55.4 57.0 55.8 51.5 48.6 49.4 49.2 49.7 -- -- --
Vegetable Source 9.3 9.4 8.7 10.8 11.8 11.8 12.0 11.8 11.6 -- -- --
Total Invisible Fats 71.2 64.7 65.7 66.6 63.3 60.4 61.4 61.0 61.4 -- -- --

Total Visible and Invisible Fats and Oils9 123.8 117.3 122.9 130.9 126.2 125.8 128.7 131.1 129.0 -- -- --

Components may not add to totals due to rounding.
Fat Content.
Includes indirect use of edible tallow and lard (I.e., animal/vegetable blends).
Direct use.
Data for direct use of edible tallow not available prior to 1979.
Includes confections, coffee whiteners, and non-dairy toppings.
Data for invisible fat not available after 1994.
Includes chocolate, cocoa, coffee, tea and spices. Source: Economic Research Service
Fats deliberately discarded not accounted for in these data U.S. Department of Agriculture

Data presented in Agricultural Economic Report fats have gone from a very predominant to a very
No. 138, “Food Consumption, Prices, Expenditures,” subordinate position as far as their contribution to the
July 1968, showed that on a per capita basis about two- visible fat portion of the diet is concerned. Concurrently,
thirds of the visible fat available in 1940 was from vegetable oils have advanced from a very subordinate to
animal origin and about one-third from vegetable origin. a very dominant position. Here again, the data are based
In contrast to this, the report shows that in 1966 only upon the quantity of fats and oils available for
one-third of the visible fat available was from animal consumption by the civilian population. The amount of
origin while two-thirds was from vegetable origin. In fat actually consumed currently is about 33% of total
1997 this trend continued further and vegetable oils now calories (see Table XI).
contribute about 95% of the visible fat available for
consumption (see Table X). Since around 1940 animal

Sex and age of Total Saturated Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated
(years) population Protein fat fatty acids fatty acids fatty acids Carbohydrate
Percent --------------------------------------- Percent of calories ------------------------------------
20 and over 33.9 15.8 33.2 11.1 12.8 6.6 49.6
20 and over 36.8 15.4 32.2 10.6 12.2 6.9 52.7
Individuals 100.00 15.1 32.7 11.2 12.5 6.5 52.1
Total population surveyed = 5,188 individuals. Source: reference (1)

XI. CONCLUSION role of dietary fat in relation to health. As a service to the

professional communities, the Institute of Shortening
This booklet has reviewed a broad scope of and Edible Oils, Inc., intends to revise this publication as
topics including the importance of dietary fat as an needed to keep the information as current and useful as
essential nutrient and the usage of fats and oils in a possible.
variety of food products. Much research continues on the

References: Food Fats and Oils - 1999

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Agriculture, Data Tables: Results from USDA’s 1994- effects of dietary saturated, monounsaturated, and
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Riverdale, MD, p. 12, 1997.
12. Mata, P., Garrido, J. A., Ordovas, J. M., Blazquez,
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Food and Nutrition Board, Commission on Life de Oya, M., Effect of dietary monounsaturated fatty
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National Academy Press, pp.46-49, 1989.
13. Gardner, C. D. and Kraemer, H. C.,
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Chronic Disease Risk, Washington, D.C., National
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and Mutanen, M., Stearic acid, trans fatty acids, and
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Department of Agriculture, Is total fat consumption apolipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), and lipid transfer
really decreasing? Nutrition Insights, No. 5, 2 pp., 1998. proteins in healthy subjects. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 65:
1419-1426, 1997.
5. Hunter, J. E. and Applewhite, T. H., Correction of
Dietary Fat Availability Estimates for Wastage of Food 15. Almendingen, K., Jordal, O., Kierulf, P., Sanstad,
Service Deep-Frying Fats. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc., 70: B., and Pedersen, J. I., Effects of partially hydrogenated
613-617, 1993. fish oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and butter
on serum lipoproteins and Lp[a] in men. J. Lipid Res.,
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department 36: 1370-1384, 1995.
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Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 4th ed., 16. Gardner, C. D., Fortmann, S. P., and Krauss, R. M.,
Home and Garden Bulletin #232, Washington, D.C., Association of small low-density lipoprotein particles
1995. with the incidence of coronary artery disease in men and
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Antioxidant A substance that slows or interferes with the reaction of a fat or oil with
oxygen. The addition of antioxidants to fats or foods containing them
retards rancidity and increases stability and shelf life.

Bleaching The purification process to remove color bodies and residual impurities
from refining, generally through the use of an adsorbent clay material.

Biotechnology The use of living organisms or other biological systems to develop food,
drugs and other products.

Catalyst A material which accelerates a chemical reaction without becoming part of

the reaction products.

Cholesterol A fat-soluble sterol found primarily in animal cells important in

physiological processes.

Chlorophyll A natural, green coloring agent vital to a plant’s photosynthesis process

which is removed from vegetable oils through bleaching and refining

Cis The term applied to a geometric isomer of an unsaturated fatty acid where
the hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon atoms comprising the double
bond are on the same side of the carbon chain.

Complex triglyceride A triglyceride where one or two fatty acid structures differ from the third
fatty acid.

Confectionery fat A broad range of fats used in the formulation of sweet goods such as candy
bars, bakery product coatings, cream centers, and granola bars.

Conjugated fatty Polyunsaturated fatty acids exhibiting pairs of unsaturated carbons not
acids separated by at least one saturated carbon.

Crude oil The oil product obtained from the initial extraction, crushing or expelling
of an animal or vegetable source.

Degumming The process that removes phosphatide compounds from crude oils prior to

Deodorization The process of subjecting oil to high temperatures in the presence of a

vacuum to remove trace volatile components that may affect flavor, odor
and color. It is generally the last step in the refining process.

Diglyceride The ester resulting from the chemical combination of glycerol and two
fatty acids.

Double bond The configuration of two adjacent carbon atoms with dual linkage between
the carbons.

Emulsifier Compounds having the ability to alter the surface properties of the
materials they contact. Emulsifiers are often used to disperse immiscible
liquids such as water and oil or fats in products such as mayonnaise, ice
cream and salad dressings.

Ester The chemical reaction product of an alcohol and an acid.

Esterification The process of chemically combining an alcohol and an acid resulting in

the formation of an ester.

Fat Esters of fatty acids and glycerol which are normally solid at room

Fatty Acid A chemical unit composed of a chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms
ending with a reactive group consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen
which is the fundamental unit within a triglyceride fat molecule.

Fully refined oil The term used to describe an oil which has been subjected to extensive
processing methods to remove: (1) free fatty acids and other gross
impurities (refine), (2) naturally occurring color bodies such as chlorophyll
(bleach), and (3) volatile trace components which may affect color, flavor
and odor (deodorize).

Fire point The temperature at which an oil sample, when heated under prescribed
conditions, will ignite for a period of at least five seconds.

Flash point The temperature at which an oil sample, when heated under prescribed
conditions, will flash when a flame is passed over the surface of the oil.

Fractionation The process of separating fats and oils by differences in melt points or

Free fatty acids The fatty acids in a fat which are not chemically bound to glycerol

Fully hydrogenated The term describing a fat or oil which has been hydrogenated to the extent
that the resultant product is solid at room temperature. Products containing
hydrogenated fats include “heavy duty” frying fats for restaurant use, solid
shortenings and solid margarines.

Geometric isomer An isomer differing because of the structural location of certain elements.

Hard butter A generic term used primarily in the confectionery industry to describe a
class of fats with physical characteristics similar to those of cocoa butter or
dairy butter.

Hydrogenation The process of adding hydrogen atoms to the carbon-to-carbon double

bonds in unsaturated fatty acids. This process results in higher melt points,
higher solid fat content and longer shelf life without rancidity in fat-
containing products.

Hydrolysis The chemical reaction of fat with water to form glycerol and free fatty

Interesterification The process of rearranging the fatty acids in triglyceride molecules. It is

used principally in confectionery fats and spreads to maintain solid fat
content at ambient temperatures while lowering the melting point.

Iodine value An expression of the degree of unsaturation of a fat. It is determined by

measuring the amount of iodine which reacts with a natural or processed
fat under prescribed conditions.

Isomer Compounds containing the same elements in the same proportions which
can exist in more than one structural form; e.g. geometric, positional or

Lauric oils Oils containing 40-50% lauric acids (C-12) in combination with other
relatively low molecular weight fatty acids. Coconut and palm kernel oils
are principal examples.

Lecithin A mixture of naturally occurring phosphatides which has emulsifying,

wetting and antioxidant properties, a principal source of which is crude
soybean oil.

Lipid A broad spectrum of fat and fat-like compounds including mono-, di- and
triglycerides, sterols, phosphatides and fatty acids.

Lipoprotein Any of the class of proteins that contain a lipid combined with a simple

Medium chain Triglycerides containing fatty acid chains of 6-10 carbon atoms which are
triglyceride (MCT) readily absorbed by the body.

Monoglyceride The ester resulting from the combination of glycerol and one fatty acid.

Monounsaturated A fatty acid containing only one pair of carbon – carbon double bonds.

Non-conjugated fatty Polyunsaturated fatty acids exhibiting pairs of carbons separated by at least
acids one saturated carbon atom.

Oil Esters of fatty acids and glycerol which normally are liquid at room

Oleate An ester or salt of oleic acid. Commonly referenced as a preparation

containing oleic acid as the principal ingredient.

Olein The liquid fraction of oil remaining when an oil is cooled.

Olean (olestra) A sucrose fatty acid polyester used as a substitute for dietary fat which is
not digested or absorbed by the body.

Oxidation The reaction of oxygen with a fat or oil resulting in the development of
Partially The term used to describe an oil which has been lightly to moderately
hydrogenated hydrogenated to shift the melting point to a higher temperature range and
increase the stability of the oil. Partially hydrogenated oils remain liquid
and are used in a wide variety of food applications.

Peroxides The intermediate compounds formed during the oxidation of lipids which
may react further to form the compounds that can cause rancidity.

Phosphatide The chemical combination of an alcohol (typically glycerol) with

phosphoric acid and a nitrogen compound; synonymous with

Plasticize The process of creating a solid crystal structure in a fat or oil product
resulting in a smooth appearance and firm consistency.

Polymerize The bonding of similar molecules into long chains or branched structures.

Polymorphism The property of a fat molecules to exist in multiple crystalline structures;

identified as alpha, beta and beta prime.

Polyunsaturated A fatty acid containing more than one pair of carbon-carbon double bonds.

Positional isomer An isomer differing in the location of a double bond.

Refine The process of removing impurities from crude oil by way of treatment
with alkali solution (chemical) or steam stripping (physical).

Saponification The chemical reaction between a fat or oil and an alkaline compound
creating glycerol and soap.

Saturated A fatty acid containing no carbon-carbon double bonds.

Shortening A fat product that incorporates tenderness in the food (e.g., bakery
products)in which it is used. It may carry other additives such as
flavorings, colors, emulsifiers and preservatives.

Simple triglyceride A triglyceride comprised of three identical fatty acids.

Soap The product resulting from the treatment of fat with an alkali.

Soap stock The aqueous byproduct from the chemical refining operation that is
comprised of soap, hydrated gums, water, oil and other impurities.

Stearine The solid fat product created by fractionation.

Stearic acid A saturated 18-carbon free fatty acid.

Sterol A compound made up of the sterol nucleus, an 8-10-carbon side chain and
an alcohol group.

Tocopherol A naturally occurring antioxidant found in many vegetable oils.

Trans A geometric isomer of an unsaturated fatty acid where hydrogens attached
to the carbons comprising the double bond are on opposite sides of the
carbon chain.

Triglyceride The chemical combination product of glycerol and three fatty acids.

Unsaturated The carbon-hydrogen make-up of a fatty acid describing a shortage of

hydrogen atoms in the molecule.

Wax The chemical combination of a long chain alcohol and fatty acids.

Winterize The process of separating the solid fraction (stearine) from the liquid
fraction (olein) of an oil by cooling and filtering.


Cold test The determination in time that an oil remains free of visible solids when immersed in a
32ºF ice-water bath.

Color, Lovibond An analytical method used to quantify the visual color of an oil in units of red and

Dropping point The temperature at which a solid fat softens to the point where it will flow and drop
out of a specially designed container. The dropping point is an indication of the
chemical and crystalline nature of the solid fat.

Flavor A sensory description experienced in taste testing of a fat or oil. A bland or neutral
flavor is generally desirable.

Free fatty acid (FFA) The amount of free fatty acids present in an oil as determined by simple titration.

Melting point (MP) The temperature at which a fat changes from solid to liquid within the specific
parameters of the test.

Oil stability index An accelerated rancidity test that measures the rate of oxidation of a fat or oil and is
(OSI) expressed as an index number. The higher the index number, at a given temperature,
the more stable the product is to oxidation. This method replaces the Active Oxygen
Method (AOM).

Peroxide value (PV) The determination of the extent of fat or oil oxidation by measuring the amount of
peroxides present.

Solid fat index (SFI) Provides an index or indication of the proportions of crystallized and molten fat at a
given series of temperature checkpoints. Determined by measuring the change in
volume that occurs when a solid fat partially melts to liquid at the temperature of

Solid fat content (SFC) A measure of the crystallized fat content measured by magnetic resonance (NMR) at a
series of temperature checkpoints.