The Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not generally recognized as safe for use in food, based on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels.
The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that contain artificial trans fat, should this determination be finalized.
While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern, Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, FDA commissioner, said in a news release. The FDAs action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential danger of trans fat. Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year.
Consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The independent Institute of Medicine has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Consumption of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet, according to the IOM.
Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Numerous retailers and manufacturers have demonstrated that many of these products can be made without trans fat, according to the FDA.
Thanks to these efforts, along with public education, the consumption of trans fat in American diets has been significantly reduced, the FDA noted. Since trans fat content information began appearing in the Nutrition Facts label of foods in 2006, trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.
One of the FDAs core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe, Michael Taylor, the FDAs deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in the news release. Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the major source of trans fat in processed food.
If the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination following a review of submitted comments, partially hydrogenated would be considered food additives and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation. If such a determination were made, the agency would provide adequate time for producers to reformulate products to minimize market disruption.
The FDAs preliminary determination is only with regard to PHOs and does not affect trans fat that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.
Full notice and opportunity to comment: http://1.usa.gov/1guarpr