Soybean Oil Facts: Processing Solutions 

to Remove Partially Hydrogenated Oils from the Food Supply

High Oleic Soybean Shortening

Replace Partially Hydrogenated Oils with Soy-Based Solutions Made with U.S.-Grown Soybeans

The soybean industry is committed to providing the food industry with healthful and functional ingredients, while continuing a dialogue with food companies about the evolving desires of consumers.

The FDA requires food manufacturers to remove partially hydrogenated oils from foods by 2018.

Partially hydrogenated oils are the main source of industrially produced trans fat in the U.S. food supply. While many food companies have taken steps to remove trans fat from products, hundreds of processed foods that require the structure of a more solid fat still contain small amounts. Partially hydrogenated oils can be found in baked goods such as cakes, cookies and pies; margarine, vegetable shortenings and stick margarines; and refrigerated dough products such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls.

Soybean oil processing methods are available to replace partially hydrogenated oils for food applications that require solid and semi-solid shortenings. The result is products that have no added trans fat per serving and are low in saturated fat. 


A method used for bakery applications to avoid the introduction of trans fat is blending.

A fully hydrogenated soybean oil (a trans fat-free hard stock) is blended with a non-hydrogenated oil, such as conventional soybean oil, high oleic soybean oil or alternative vegetable oils. This mixture is chilled, blended and tempered to stabilize it for final use. 

Blending fully hydrogenated soybean oil with non-hydrogenated soybean oil creates a product that contributes zero grams trans fat per serving and is low in saturated fat.

Interesterification Interesterification

Another processing technique is interesterification, during which fatty acids are rearranged within and among triglyceride molecules.

This method does not cause isomerization, so no trans fatty acids are formed. Interesterification produces a wide range of products similar to those produced
from partial hydrogenation, and is ideal as an ingredient in cookies, cakes, spreads and more. Both the temperature at which soybean oil becomes liquid and the phasing of turning from solid to liquid can be adjusted using recently perfected technology. Crystallization of interesterified soybean oil can be achieved by chilling and mixing the oil, and tempering it under controlled conditions. This technique achieves solid and semi-solid shortenings. 

The Next Generation of U.S.-Grown Soybean Oils 

The soybean industry continues to work toward developing varieties with enhanced compositional traits to produce healthier oils with improved functionality.

One example available now is U.S.-grown high oleic soybean oil. Read “Soybean Oil Facts: High Oleic and Increased Omega-3 Soybean Oils” for additional information about oils available now and those in the pipeline.

Dedicated to the Future of Edible Oils

The 73 farmer-directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

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