In a press release issued last Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), the main source of trans fat in processed foods, must be removed from food products over the next three years. PHOs will no longer be “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS in human food, the agency said. The FDA first made about PHOs not being GRAS in 2013; the agency has just now finalized it.
Trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, changing the shape of the fat so that it becomes solid at room temperature. The food industry also uses partially hydrogenated oil because it extends the shelf life of a product. However, trans fats are shown to have a detrimental affect on health; these types of fats increases your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your LDL (good cholesterol). “This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.” said FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D.
Manufacturers have been required to include information about trans fat content since 2006. Although consumption has decreased, “current intake remains a public health concern” the release. “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,” Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said, according to the release. “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.”