In what can be described as a landmark ruling in food safety and regulation, the Food and Drug Administration has said that food manufactures have a period of three years to eliminate the use of artificial trans fats from their products. Former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg played a role in pushing this ruling. The ban on artificial trans fats will officially begin in 2018. Many companies have already taken steps to find replacements for trans foods in their food products so that they will meet the guidelines.
The decision to finally institute a ban on trans fats in foods made in the USA comes after a long lawsuit by the Center for Science in the Public Interest against the FDA to fast track the ban. Both the FDA and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are in agreement that the proposed elimination of trans foods from all foods in the USA is a good decision. Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the director of the FDA says that this ban will help prevent heart attacks, heart disease and high cholesterol. These diseases have now become an epidemic in the United States. The director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest echoed the statements of Dr. Ostroff. He said that the elimination of trans fats will create a healthier food supply that will result in fewer heart and cholesterol problems.
Artificial trans fats have now been removed from the GRAS listing of the Food and Drug Administration. This means that they are no longer considered as a generally recognized as safe substance by the FDA. The move by the FDA comes not only after public pressure but after scientific studies have shown that artificial trans fats have been found to increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Consumption of trans fats has also been correlated to an increase in heart attacks and stroke. Weight gain is also believed to occur from consumption of trans fats.
Trans fats can be currently found in a limited number of foods. This includes frosting, sprinkles, pastries, pie crusts, biscuits and some types of microwave popcorn. Trans fats are also used for frying foods. Under the current laws of the FDA regarding trans fats, a food product can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving and still be labelled as trans-fat free. The new ruling would eliminate this loophole. Trans fats are made when a liquid vegetable oil is injected with hydrogen to make it solid like butter. Unfortunately, the introduction of hydrogen into the liquid oil changes the chemical composition of the oil and makes it harmful when consumed. This is why the FDA has decided to phase out artificial trans fats over a period of time.