Article Archives
NuSun Makes the Ivy League

Monday, December 2, 2002
filed under: Utilization/Trade: NuSun

NuSun Makes the Ivy League

Harvard Teaching hospital switching to trans-free sun oil in food service operations

NuSun has made its way into one of the country’s most prestigious institutions for higher learning: Harvard’s teaching hospital plans to use NuSun sunflower oil in its food service operations.

"NuSun is a definite go,” says Kathy McManus, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. “In addition to NuSun being a healthful, trans-free oil, customers love the taste, and the food service staff love its performance.”

Brigham and Women's Hospital is known as a leader worldwide in patient care, education, nutrition and research, and is a major teaching hospital associated with Harvard Medical School.

The hospital’s decision to use NuSun mid-oleic sunflower oil follows a NuSun presentation and a cooking and tasting demonstration conducted by the National Sunflower Association and representatives of ADM.

McManus and Karen Purdy-Reilly, R.D., food service director for the hospital, both leaders in their professional fields, were looking for cooking oil that did not contribute any trans fats to their fried cafeteria food selections. From a practical standpoint, they needed cooking oil that tastes good, works well in busy kitchens, and has a comparable price to the partially hydrogenated product that they were using, which was a partially hydrogenated product consisting of canola and corn oils with approximately 15-20% trans fat content.

A team of experts visited the Brigham hospital and met with the two directors and their food service staff. Pat Kearney, president of PMK Associates and a nutritional consultant, presented an overview of the growing trend in the food industry to use trans-free oils, driven in part by new federal guidelines. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue final regulations on trans fat labeling early in 2003.

Ruth Isaak, NSA’s director of communications, highlighted the optimal nutritional profile of NuSun that is trans fat-free, has less than 10% saturated fat, and is about 26% polyunsaturated fat and about 65% monounsaturated fat. With this composition, Isaak pointed out that NuSun is healthful, does not require hydrogenation for commercial use, and enhances fry-life and product shelf-life.

Further details of NuSun’s performance characteristics were described by Catherine Kim, food oils technical service research chemist for ADM. She described numerous tests that show NuSun has superior or comparable taste and performance characteristics.

In sampling menu items fried in NuSun, such as fries, onion rings, and fish, Brigham food service leaders were pleased by the favorable taste, color and appearance of the food items prepared with NuSun, noting that the oil did not have an odor when heated. They fast realized that this oil could satisfy their food service needs, along with helping the hospital meet recommended health guidelines.

The hospital then began a trial period with the oil. The Brigham’s main cafeteria featured a “NuSun” week, with table tents and posters and a bulletin board display informing cafeteria customers that they were using a trans-free oil. An informal survey of customers netted extremely positive responses to the taste of NuSun, and applauded the medical center for making their fried food items healthier. Moreover, cafeteria staff reaffirmed initial impressions about NuSun’s cooking performance: that it was equal to or superior to their current product. As a result, the hospital plans on using NuSun in the future.

Isaak says the pilot project with Harvard indicates that a package of beneficial qualities is necessary for institutions in deciding whether to switch to a different cooking oil, a primary food service preparation tool. The optimal product should:

• be naturally trans-free;

• have a clean, pleasant taste;

• be superior/comparable in performance; and

• is comparable in cost.

With NuSun making the grade in these areas at Harvard, its use in the institutional

food service market appears to be quite promising. – Ruth Isaak, Pat Kearney


NuSun Brought to Market in Record Time

In 1995, the entire sunflower industry made the decision to move to mid-oleic sunflower oil, recognizing that the food industry would be facing trans-fat labeling, and that nutrition experts were already recommending consuming less trans fat. The sunflower group realized that this new type of sunflower oil would satisfy a definite market need if it met taste and performance standards required of commercial oil, without needing hydrogenation.

The industry, including USDA researchers, hybrid seed companies, processors and sunflower growers, have all been involved in bringing NuSun to the market place. The genetic characteristics existed in sunflower to develop oil that was significantly higher in monounsaturated fat and lower in saturated fat. NuSun proved to be a very functional, healthy oil choice. It meets the stringent standards necessary for commercial frying and food use, without hydrogenation. Products prepared in it have an extended shelf life. It works equally as well in any vegetable oil application, and appeals to a number of users in that it is not a biotech product. NuSun hybrids are developed with conventional plant breeding techniques.

New Trans-Fat Labeling Guidelines on the Horizon

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reopended a public comment period, until Dec. 16, 2002, for a proposed rule on trans fat labeling. This comes in response to a National Academies of Science/ Institute of Medicine report which recommends that “trans-fat consumption be as low as possible while still consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.” The report found “a positive linear trend” between trans fatty acid intake and total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thus increasing the risk of coronary heart disease.

The proposal currently states that the amount of trans fat per serving be listed on food labels on a separate line from saturated fat. In addition, an asterisk (or other symbol) will be placed in the “% Daily Value” column for trans fat, which will correspond with a statement below the Nutrition Facts box that reads, “Intake of trans fat should be as low as possible.” FDA may make it possible for manufacturers to begin labeling the trans fat content of food products before publication of a final rule, expected sometime in 2003.

return to top of page

   More about Sunflower ►