The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it is allowing the food industry three years to eliminate artificial trans fats from the nation’s food supply, a move that health experts would prevent thousands of heart attack deaths a year.
Trans fat, or partially hydrogenated oil, is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils tom make solid fats. It also increases shelf life and enhances flavors of food. Companies have had to list fat content on their labels since 2006, and the amount of artery-clogging trans fat in American foods has already been reduced substantially. Trans fats still lurk in many popular products, however, including frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, margarines, coffee creamers, and frozen pizzas.
Following Tuesday’s ruling that trans fat not “generally recognized as safe” for use in human food, companies will now have three years to remove partially hydrogenated oils from their products.
Dr. Steven Nissen, the chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, praised the FDA for the bold ruling, saying,
In many ways, trans fat is a real tragic story for the American diet. In the 1950s and ’60s, we mistakenly told Americans that butter and eggs were bad for them and pushed people to margarine, which is basically trans fat. What we’ve learned now is that saturated fat is relatively neutral — it is the trans fat that is really harmful and we had made the dietary situation worse. I’m terribly proud of the FDA for stepping in and knowing what needed to be done for the American diet.”
Trans fats are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease in the United States—the leading cause of death in the U.S. Eating a diet rich in trans fat is linked to higher body weight, heart disease, and memory loss. American dietary guidelines recommend that Americans keep limit their trans fat consumption to “as low as possible.”
Read more here- “FDA moves to ban trans fats from U.S. food supply” (Brady Dennis, Washington Post)