Tofu lovers, take note: If you are eating the bean product to keep your cholesterol levels in check, it may not help.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it has taken the unprecedented step to revoke the health claim that soy protein can reduce heart disease. The agency has authorized the use of 12 health claims on packaged foods, including how calcium and vitamin D help lower the risk of osteoporosis and that eating certain fruits and vegetables will lower the risk of cancer.

Since 1999, when the FDA authorized the claim that eating soy would help keep coronary disease at bay, there have been numerous studies with inconsistent findings on the relationship, said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in a statement.

The agency made it clear they were looking at the totality of the currently available scientific evidence.

"Our review of that evidence had led us to conclude that the relationship between soy protein and heart disease does not meet the rigorous standard for an FDA-authorized health claim," said Mayne.

Truck driver Marion Howard watching soybeans load into his truck earlier this month at Chris Crosskno’s farm near Denton, Mo. Crosskno is busy harvesting all of his soybeans this month.
J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS
Truck driver Marion Howard watching soybeans load into his truck earlier this month at Chris Crosskno’s farm near Denton, Mo. Crosskno is busy harvesting all of his soybeans this month.

If the current health claim is revoked, the FDA would allow companies to use a "qualified health claim," which requires a lower scientific standard of evidence, according to the announcement.

Soybean and its parts can be found in margarine, salad dressings, baked goods, fiber bran breads, cereals, and cooking oils. Lecithin, an extract from the oil, is used by pharmaceuticals to make protective coating and to keep chocolate and cocoa butter in a candy bar from separating.

It is also used in plastics and biodiesel fuel.

The total value of the U.S. soybean crop was $40.94 billion, according to the American Soybean Association. Pennsylvania farmers planted 580,000 acres of the crop in 2106 valued at $242 million. In New Jersey, 100,000 acres were planted with a value of $34 million.