The Food Attributes of Margarines

The Food Attributes of Margarines

Oleomargarine as Rich in Fats as Butter


                The use of margarines, as a butter substitute is a necessity in many American dietaries and it is important to know the food elements present in this product and to compare the elements of margarine with those found in butter.

Originated in France

Oleomargarine was first manufactured in France and was introduced into the United States about forty years ago. It is recognized by the Federal Government as a food product for human consumption and a legitimate article of commerce.

Many millions of under-privileged Americans cannot afford the use of butter, and margarines offer a good substitute rich in fats.

Margarines are made from natural fats and oils. They are fats derived from oleo oil, milk, and cream and used as a substitute for butter.

Oleo oil is obtained from the leaf tallow of beef. The tallow is cleaned and cooled, then cut up, heated in a steam-jacket caldron to 150oF. it is then cooled and placed under pressure to force out the oil from the strearin. The oil is yellow in color and has an agreeable taste. Proportion of milk, cream and butter are added and the whole mass churned. Afterwards it is worked, salted and packed. Pork fat and cottonseed oil are sometimes substituted for beef tallow. All the ingredients are examined by government inspectors and the finished product again inspected before marketing.

The minerals in either margarines of butter are present in such small quantities that they are not considered an important source of this element. Minerals in margarines are about equal to butter.

The vitamin content of the two products are similar. Butter has a higher Vitamin A and D content than margarine but Vitamins B, C, E and G are present in only negligible quantities in both margarine and butter.

Halliburton and Drummond, 1however, found that “Margarines containing oleo oil are quite able to replace butter in satisfying the nutritive requirements of young animals.” Osborne and Mendel, 2 confirmed this work. Fetter and Carlson, 3found that margarine made of beef and pork fats and milk is equal to butter in Vitamin A and superior to butter in Vitamin D. Margarines made from vegetable oils contain smaller quantities of Vitamin A, the amount depending upon the Vitamin A content of the milk used in its manufacture.

Dr. E. V. McCollum states: “Although, as we have said, butter is one of the best sources of this vitamin (A) it is not essential to use butter to secure it. Milk is a rich source of Vitamin A and if each person will consume about a quart of milk a day in some form and eat leafy vegetables and uncooked salads he will suffer no ill effects from leaving butter entirely out of his diet. In fact the home-maker who is obliged to practice economy in her food purchases will do better to spend her money on milk and green vegetables than on butter. Nothing can take the place of the first two foods, but a good butter substitute can safely replace butter if circumstances demand.”

Supplement Diet

For those who use oleomargarine it is important to supplement the diet with other foods to supply the deficiency of Vitamin A and others. it must be remembered that margarines furnish fats and are equal to butter in this respect.

The Bureau of Home Economics of the United States Department of Agriculture in an analysis of the proximate composition and fuel the value of butter and oleomargarine, gave the following:



Protein and Carbohydrates




per pound


Butter . . . . . . .

Oleomargarine. . .

Per cent



Per cent



Per cent



Per cent






The above ash content would roughly disclose the approximate mineral constituent and would indicate that margarine is richer in this respect as well as in energy value than is butter.