FDA Moves to Ban Trans Fats in Processed Foods
A review of scientific data on the dangers of partially hydrogentated oils (PHOs) has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban these ingredients from being included in processed foods.
PHOs are the main source of artificial trans fats, which are not "generally recognized as safe," according to the FDA.
Food manufacturers will be given three years to remove PHOs from their products, which will never be allowed in human food thereafter unless companies have approved permits from the FDA to use PHOs for specific cases.
"The FDA's action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency's commitment to the heart health of all Americans," said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA's Acting Commissioner "This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year."
Diabetes and trans fat
The FDA claims that trans fat consumption has decreased in recent years, probably due to better labeling practices and healthier eating trends. But artificial trans fats - which are different from natural trans fats found in foods like dairy and meat - still exist in many processed foods, like vegetable oils, junk food and fast food.
Many studies have linked trans fats to a higher risk of insulin resistance, abdominal obesity and blood sugar problems. Trans fats may also increase inflammatory markers, which can raise risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases.
"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," said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "This determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from all stakeholders received during the public comment period."
According to the FDA, consumers can make healthier choices by checking food labels and avoiding products that contain partially hydrogenated oils.