ST. LOUIS -- Bunge North America, the North American arm of Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG), is pleased to announce that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its petition for a qualified health claim linking consumption of soybean oil to reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Bunge independently filed a petition with the FDA that included a summary of human clinical studies from top nutrition researchers demonstrating the heart health potential of soybean oil-America's most commonly used ingredient and top dietary source of omega-3 fats. Upon review, the FDA will allow companies to communicate that soybean oil may reduce coronary heart disease risk and lower LDL-cholesterol when replacing saturated fat and not increasing calories.

Now, food companies and restaurants can use the heart health claim with some of their most popular products where soybean oil is typically used, including bottled oil, dressings, dips, snacks, baked goods and more. According to the Hartman Group, heart health is the #1 health feature U.S. consumers look for when grocery shopping. In addition, 55% of U.S consumers are trying to avoid or reduce saturated fat in their diet, and almost 40% are trying to incorporate healthier fats-i.e. polyunsaturated and monounsatured fats.

"As a leading soybean oil producer, Bunge is committed to enhancing the value of America's most accessible food oil.  Based on a compelling set of human studies from top nutrition researchers showing that soybean oil could lower LDL cholesterol when replacing saturated fat, we proactively petitioned the FDA to permit the claim recognizing that enabling heart health communications for this oil would further enhance its attractiveness," said Dr. Mark Stavro, senior director of marketing, Bunge North America. "The FDA's decision provides opportunities for food companies eager to develop heart healthy products, consumers looking to improve heart health, and soybean farmers who thrive when demand for their crop increases."

The U.S. is the world's leading soybean producer, accounting for 33% of global production. Bunge is a leading soybean oil producer in the U.S. and around the world. It works closely with soybean farmers to turn their harvest into an oil that is foundational in so many foods that Americans eat every day.

"We take great pride in the trusted relationships we have with our farmer customers and work hard to develop new markets for their crops," said Timothy Gallagher, executive vice president, Oilseed Value Chain, Bunge North America. "By promoting soybean oil's heart health benefits, we are helping to drive demand for a high quality product that can benefit the full soybean value chain from farm to table."

Through a versatile portfolio and powerful supply chain, Bunge enables broad access to soybean oil and its heart health benefits. It is thus helping food manufacturers and foodservice distributors and operators be a part of improving heart health in America. Bunge provides soybean oils across its Bunge@ and Whole Harvest@ brands, offering traditional soybean oil, as well as expeller-pressed, non-GMO and organic options. Based on the newly permitted soybean oil and heart health claim, food providers are allowed to make heart health claims when food and menu items include at least 5.0 grams of soybean oil per serving and also meet applicable criteria for saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium content. 

In order to be deemed heart healthy, soybean-oil-containing food products, including margarine, margarine substitutes, and margarine products must also be a good source of one of six beneficial nutrients identified by FDA. Soybean oil, soybean oil blends, salad dressings, and shortenings can carry the claim without having to be a good source of one of these six nutrients, but must meet criteria for saturated, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.