No more trans fat: FDA banning the artery-clogger

Organization says prohibition could prevent 7,000 deaths each year
Associated Press
Nov 7, 2013

Heart-clogging trans fats were once a staple of the American diet, plentiful in baked goods, microwave popcorn and fried foods. Now, mindful of the health risks, the Food and Drug Administration is getting rid of what's left of them for good.

Condemning artificial trans fats as a threat to public health, the FDA announced Thursday it will require the food industry to phase them out.

Manufacturers already have eliminated many trans fats, responding to criticism from the medical community and to local laws, Even so, the FDA said getting rid of the rest — the average American still eats around a gram of trans fat a day — could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.

It won't happen right away. The agency will collect comments for two months before determining a phase-out timetable. Different foods may have different schedules, depending how easy it is to find substitutes.

"We want to do it in a way that doesn't unduly disrupt markets," said Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods. Still, he says, the food "industry has demonstrated that it is, by and large, feasible to do."

Indeed, so much already has changed that most people won't notice much difference, if any, in food they get at groceries or restaurants.

Scientists say there are no health benefits to trans fats. And they can raise levels of "bad" cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Trans fats are widely considered the worst kind for your heart, even worse than saturated fats, which also can contribute to heart disease.

Trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants, often to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods. Though they have been removed from many items, the fats are still found in some baked goods such as pie crusts and biscuits and in ready-to-eat frostings that use the more-solid fats to keep consistency.

They also are sometimes used by restaurants for frying. Many larger chains have phased them out, but smaller restaurants may still get food containing trans fats from suppliers.

How can the government get rid of them? The FDA said it has made a preliminary determination that trans fats no longer fall in the agency's "generally recognized as safe" category, which covers thousands of additives that manufacturers can add to foods without FDA review. Once trans fats are off the list, anyone who wants to use them would have to petition the agency for a regulation allowing it, and that would likely not be approved.

The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils. The FDA is not targeting small amounts of trans fats that occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, because they would be too difficult to remove and aren't considered a major public health threat on their own.

Many companies have already phased out trans fats, prompted by new nutrition labels introduced by FDA in 2006 that list trans fats and by an increasing number of local laws, like one in New York City, that have banned them. In 2011, Wal-Mart pledged to remove all artificial trans fats from the foods the company sells by 2016. Recent school lunch guidelines prevent them from being served in cafeterias.

In a statement, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was his city's 2008 ban that led to much of the change. "Our prohibition on trans fats was one of many bold public health measures that faced fierce initial criticism, only to gain widespread acceptance and support," he said.

But support is far from universal. A nationwide poll conducted by the Pew Research Center between Oct. 30 and Nov. 6 said that of the 996 adults surveyed, 44 percent were in favor of prohibiting restaurants from using trans fats while 52 percent opposed the idea.

Still, Americans are eating much less of the fat. According to the FDA, trans fat intake among Americans declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to around one gram in 2012.

A handful of other countries have banned them, including Switzerland and Denmark. Other countries have enacted strict labeling laws.

Dr. Leon Bruner, chief scientist at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said in a statement that his group estimates that food manufacturers have voluntarily lowered the amount of trans fats in food products by 73 percent.

The group, which represents the country's largest food companies, did not speculate on a reasonable timeline or speak to how difficult a ban might be for some manufacturers. Bruner said in a statement that "consumers can be confident that their food is safe, and we look forward to working with the FDA to better understand their concerns and how our industry can better serve consumers."

Said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg: "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."

Agency officials say they have been working on trans fat issues for around 15 years and have been collecting data to justify a possible phase-out since just after President Barack Obama came into office in 2009.

The advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest first petitioned FDA to ban trans fats nine years ago. The group's director, Michael Jacobson, says the prohibition is "one of the most important lifesaving actions the FDA could take."

"Six months or a year should be more than enough time, especially considering that companies have had a decade to figure out what to do," Jacobson said.

Comments

Nemesis

That's apparently the only time they actually believe in their own slogan, and the least truly applicable one.

Dr. Information

CBS reported that only 6 people signed up for Obiecare on day one. 6! Yup, its working alright.

Truth or Dare

K, now we need them to get real serious regarding all the messed up food dye used in foods that affects the health of children, all the hormones being pumped into our food that's causing pre-pubescent boys and girls to start developing at the age of 9, the antibiotics being used, the preservatives and the freaking plastic in food (fast food joints should be 1st.) the pesticides that are 500x's higher in our food then 2 decades ago and we only think we're eating healthy.....and we're going to worry about eating a freakin deep-fried donut?! Been on a as much as possible gluten free diet, but I think in support of all the wonderful BAKERS in our world, especially good donut makers, I'm going to purchase a dozen of my favorite assortment from the House of Donuts and savor them before they're messed with!

shucks

Trans fats are not good.

Nemesis

Candy, liquor, tobacco, caffeine, tanning, TV, video games, and not exercising are not good. Depending on who you ask, you could add to that meat, dairy, dirty pictures/movies, various sexual activities, rock'n'roll, hip hop, Harry Potter books, and the list goes on. You got a lot of banning to do.

The real question is, who died and made you and/or a bunch of bureaucrats Elvis/our mother?

shucks

Nothing but ad hominum attacks and snide remarks from you... how very
intellectual of you.

Let's legalize texting while driving.

The real question is : Why are you such an ignoramus?

shucks

Here's more :

Trans fat doesn't stir much 'nanny state' debate
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wir...

Nemesis

Here's more what? There's really nothing relevant to the discussion in the article you linked.

Nemesis

double

Nemesis

Hmmmm,what's a response you'll comprehend - wait, I have it: I know you are but what am I?

Wow, Shizzle, with every response you dig the hole deeper. The comment to which you're responding contains no ad hominems or snide remarks, but a very pointed and on topic response to the non-value of your remark that "transfats are bad." A point to which you appear unable to respond, since you respond with more non-sequitur verbal floundering and namecalling.

shucks

You've got nothing but pretentiousness .

Nemesis

Classic shizzle. Bless your heart.

Do let us know when you have something meaningful to offer, but I won't be holding my breath.

shucks

Yes, I'm waiting for you too.

I lied , I could not care less for what you have to say.

Dr. Information

Nemesis. Some people deserve silence to comments posted. 4 shizzle is one of them. When will people learn on here. To have good conversation you mush ignore the bring nothing to the table people. Don't respond, its a forum, this person is probably some babbling human with limited friends and life. Just ignore them and move on.

shucks

"To have good conversation you mush ignore the bring nothing to the table people."

.....Say what ???
You certainly bring mush to the table.

"... this person is probably some babbling human with limited friends and life."
.....And who do you think you are ? Dr. Phil ?

Yes, you are another self-deluded troll who thinks he's intelligent.

Nemesis

"another self-deluded troll who thinks he's intelligent."

I know you are but what am I?

Nemesis

Just responding on a level appropriate for you, and I made no implications about whom you were addressing.

Nemesis

There is no failure - I was fully aware of whom you were addressing. I determine my reasons for responding. There's no requirement that you be addressing me.

As for circular dialogues, you're the one who keeps circling around to name calling. You challenged me to support my original assertion, and I did, to which you responded with more classic Shizzle - namecalling and irrelevancies. You're welcome to substantively dispute that, or offer a reason for your assertion that legalizing drugs is insane, but I doubt you will.

Nemesis

Not really, but thanks for confirming my doubts.

Nemesis

Why have 4shizzle's last few comments been deleted?

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