Friday, August 27, 2010


Palm oil and coconut oil score over other frying oils because of their relatively low content of unsaturated fatty acids which are prone to oxidative rancidity and other off flavor developments. Though Soy oil is one of the most abundant edible oils available at low prices in the global market, its popularity is restricted by the presence of high concentration of linoleic and linolenic acids, the two important unsaturated fats with low resistance to oxidation. In the past this oil was routinely hydrogenated to decrease the unsaturated fatty acid content and make the product more stable. Association of hydrogenation with generation of trans fats, injurious to health, has led to its shunning by responsible industries and now comes the news that genetic engineering technology has been able to suppress a specific gene that is involved in the fatty acid pathway to increase the oleic acid formation in the seed.

"Pioneer Hi-Bred announced on June 8, 2010, that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture had approved its Plenish™ high-oleic soybean trait for cultivation in the U.S., allowing the high-oleic soybeans to be grown under contract for ongoing field testing in the U.S. and additional oil testing by food companies. The Food and Drug Administration had completed its review of the soybeans in 2009. Pioneer and its commercial partners will continue to do field testing this year and next, with full commercialization expected in 2012. The company has agreements with 15 oil processors, restaurants, foodservice companies, and food manufacturing companies testing the high-oleic oil in commercial situations. Pioneer scientists used genetic engineering to suppress a specific gene in the fatty acid pathway of soybean seeds, resulting in increased levels of oleic acid and decreased levels of linoleic and linolenic acid in the seeds and oil. According to the company, extensive testing at both university and commercial pilot facilities has shown that the high-oleic soybean oil is at least 2–3 times as stable against oxidation as regular soybean oil and as stable as commonly used partially hydrogenated oils, while generating less objectionable flavor and odor during frying. It also has 20% less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil".

The on-going controversy regarding the green credentials of Palm oil which is being blamed for destruction of thousands of acres of forest land in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, can be expected to increase demand for modified soy oil from the snack product industry. Global edible oil market is dominated by Palm oil, Coconut oil, Rapeseed oil and Soy oil. The relative proportion of market share is determined by the price factor with Palm oil producers consistently being able to outwit others and whether the new version of soy oil can face the competition remains to be seen. How far the new frying oil, being a product evolved by genetic tinkering, can gain acceptability depends on the safety clearance from the authorities who want to make sure that its wide scale use by the industry is safe beyond any shadow of doubt. One of the biggest advantages for the new oil is its ability to prevent generation of the undesirable fish odor under the high temperature frying conditions, conferring extended shelf life to products prepared using this oil. .


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