Jun 19, 2015

Posted by in FDA, Healthy Eating, Nutrition | 0 Comments

Finally! The FDA to Officially Ban Trans Fat in 2018

It has been a long time coming, but finally it is bound to happen in 2018. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is officially planning to ban trans fat from processed food, a move that has been met with mixed reactions.

According to Susan Mayne, the FDA’s director for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, processed foods contain partially hydrogenated oils, PHOs, which are no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

The decision to bad trans fat was based on far-reaching research into the effects of PHOs backed by the input from all stakeholders received during the public comment period initiated by the FDA.

The findings of the research are quite convincing. It was found that PHOs increase the risk of heart disease, raises the level of bad cholesterol, reduces the level of good cholesterol and can even cause memory loss.

So, what is Trans fat to begin with?

Trans fat is a byproduct of PHOs that is created through a process which involves passing hydrogen through oil, causing the fat to change in thickness and color, before changing into a solid state. Trans fat is added to processed food to increase its shelf life in addition to changing taste and texture.

While the FDA estimates that the number of people consuming trans fat has reduced by about 78 % between 2003 and 2012, banishing trans fat altogether ensures that the remaining 22% are not exposed to the toxic substance. This is particularly important because labeling guidelines allow manufacturers to round off anything less than 0.5 g to zero; thereby making buyers think the product they are buying contains no trans fat.

What products are likely to be affected?

Boxed baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and frozen pies will be hard hit. Equally, refrigerated dough-based foods such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls, canned frosting, microwave popcorn and coffee creamers as well as stick margarine will be affected.

The FDA has given all manufacturers three years to stop the use of PHOs in their products. This means that consumers will no longer have to worry about ingesting the harmful compound after 2018. This is certainly good news for all health cognizant consumers. Some quarters say the FDA trans fat ban should have been put in place years ago but welcome the move nonetheless.

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