FDA moves to phase out artificial trans fats

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FDA The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week announced a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.

Trans fat, according to Wikipedia, is the common name for unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid. Trans fats are sometimes monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, but never saturated. Trans fats occur during the processing of polyunsaturated fatty acids in food production. Artificial trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil (a process called hydrogenation) to make it more solid. Food manufacturers use partially hydrogenated oils to improve the texture, shelf life and flavor stability of foods.

Health concerns in the past focused primarily on saturated fats, but in recent years the health community has come to view PHOs or trans fats as a greater health threat. Consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Food companies and U.S. consumers have been cutting back on trans fats for some time. Trans fat content information began appearing in the Nutrition Facts label of foods in 2006, and according to the FDA, trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.  However, some processed foods such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers still contain trans fats. FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, believes 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.

The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on the preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time food companies would need to eliminate trans fats from their products.  Following a review of the submitted comments, if the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, PHOs 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 in order to minimize market disruption. The FDA’s 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. Read more from the FDA, including instructions for submitting comments.

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Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  November, 08, 2013 at 09:02 AM

Wonder what they are going to do when they find out that many drugs are bad for you along with tobacco, alcohol, overeating, not exercising, playing professional football and the effects of sitting around all day playing video games. When they come up with the programs to take care of that I want all of you to accept them well as your government is just out to help you.

Gregg Hardy    
michigan  |  November, 09, 2013 at 07:12 AM

Good job craig, you've identified the real problem--poor interpretation of limited reaserch buy Goverment "officals" that think they are our "protector" and have no real accountability. If there had not been so much "negative" publisity about saturated fats from the government and other self proclaimed experts the trans-fat industry would never of gotten any traction. What the heck---I guess good old dairy cream was probably ok after all!

usa  |  November, 08, 2013 at 03:18 PM

If transfats were provably bad for you, the personal injury lawyers would be all over this before now. Getting rid of transfats means greater demand for vegetable oil also known as biodiesel for which renewable fuel credits are traded on the commodities market by speculators who can run the prices up for fun and profit while US refiners are required by law to have. See Congressman Meehan's Wall Street Journal editorial for more information about renewable fuel credits that trade the way carbon credits will trade. Apparently the big boys are getting leery of the stock market and want more commodities in which to put their money.... at the expense of the little guy when food prices start climbing even more.

Ohio  |  November, 12, 2013 at 06:49 PM

What constitutional authority does the FDA have to tell anyone what they can or can't do. Even if I agreed with them on this topic, which I do, they have overreached their authority. Somehow these people think that by legislating what they think is good for us all or another way of saying we can legislate good behavior that somehow they are justified. Big brother go home and get out of our lives!!

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