Health Canada Aims To Virtually Eliminate Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) From Foods

May 24, 2017 By


Service(s) related to this article:  Food & Beverages and  Product Development & Label Compliance

Health Canada has released a notice of proposal describing the regulation of prohibiting the use of Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) in all foods sold in Canada and is seeking comments from Canadians, including stakeholders. This proposed regulation also builds on previous measures, which include mandatory nutrition labeling of Trans Fats. PHOs are the primary source of industrially produced Trans Fats in the food supply and comments related to PHOs will be accepted from April 7 to June 21, 2017 by Health Canada. Once the regulation is finalized, the prohibition of PHOs would come into effect one year later (June, 2018) to provide manufacturers time to reformulate their products and nutritional labels.

Trans Fats are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that are found naturally in foods from ruminant animals (e.g., milk and beef) and can also be industrially produced. The major source of industrially produced Trans Fats in the food supply are PHOs, which are produced via partial hydrogenation. PHOs are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil via partial hydrogenation process, which can make liquid oils more solid at room temperature. PHOs can also increase the shelf life of foods. In contrast, PHOs can also create harmful trans fats, which have shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. However, “fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oils doesn’t contain trans fats.

The Health Canada’s proposed definition applies to PHOs used in foods intended for human consumption. It also applies to PHOs added to foods for minor use applications or technical purposes such as processing aids, pan release agents, etc. Examples of excluded ingredients include:

  • PHOs used as raw materials to synthesize other ingredients as well as ingredients derived from PHOs as long as the trans fatty acids present in the raw materials are not found in the final food;
  • Conjugated linoleic acids;
  • Partially hydrogenated methyl ester of rosin;
  • Ingredients that contain only naturally occurring trans fats (e.g., non-hydrogenated ruminant sources);
  • Ingredients or foods containing trans fats which have been introduced inadvertently as an outcome of high temperature processing.

Lastly, the proposed ban on PHOs also aligns with global efforts toward the removal of PHOs in foods. In fact, in June 2015, FDA issued a final determination that PHOs are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and from June 18, 2018, US manufacturers must ensure that their products no longer contain PHOs for uses that have not been otherwise authorized by FDA.

When it comes to product development or reformulation, dicentra can evaluate matters from a scientific and regulatory perspective for Canadian and US compliance, as PHOs are considered. This ensures that once the product is introduced to the marketplace it will comply with all relevant regulatory requirements and that all of its claims will be properly substantiated. We also assist with the development and review of Nutritional labels.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries.  We evaluate, implement and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.  Contact dicentra at 1-866-647-3279 or visit https://dicentra.comto learn more about us and our services.