Although some companies have worked toward reducing the amount of trans fats in their food products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants the artificial trans fats removed from the nation’s food supply.
The FDA announced June 16 that the agency is taking action to remove trans fats, with the hope of preventing thousands of heart attacks each year. By June 18, 2018, partially hydrogenated oils or PHOs, the primary dietary source of trans fats, no longer will be added to the nation’s food supply unless otherwise approved, according to an FDA news release.
Say no to PHOs
PHOs are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in human food, the news release said.
“We made this determination based on the available scientific evidence and the findings of expert panels,” Susan Mayne, PhD, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said in the news release. “Studies show that diet and nutrition play a key role in preventing chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and today’s action goes hand in hand with other FDA initiatives to improve the health of Americans, including updating the Nutrition Facts label.”
PHOs are added to many popular processed foods, according to the news release, including crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods. PHOs also can be found in stick margarines, coffee creamers, refrigerated dough products such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls and read-to-use frosting. PHOs have been used by many companies since the 1950s to increase shelf life of food products, the news release said. But trans fat has been associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease by contributing to the buildup of plaque inside the arteries, the news release said.
With the measure, the FDA is offering a three-year compliance period to allow the food industry to gradually phase out remaining uses of PHOs and to seek food additive approval for those uses. Companies will be able to petition the FDA for certain uses of partially hydrogenated oils.
Under the new guidelines trans fat wouldn’t be completely eliminated, since it occurs naturally in meat and dairy products, the news release said. It also exists at very low levels in other edible oils where it is unavoidably produced during their manufacture, the release stated.
The FDA recommends consumers consider the amounts of saturated fat and trans fat when choosing food products and that they buy products with the lowest amounts of those fats. Consumers also should read labels, even if a food claims to have 0 grams trans fat according to the news release. Companies can make that claim if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving under current regulations, according to the release.
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