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Will we finally be able to say goodbye to artificial trans fats?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
FDA moves to ban trans fat in food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking a stand on unhealthy trans-fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil that the agency says is a health threat. The agency is looking to ban trans-fats in food, except those that are regulated and approved.

The plan is to gradually get rid of trans fat in food that has increasingly declined, but still permitted at low levels even in foods labeled "no trans fats". Anything less than 0.5 grams is permitted in food labeled no trans fat, making consumers unaware of what they're really eating.

Many foods still contain levels that are a health risk for millions.

Artificial fat is added to our food to preserve shelf life and to improve taste - but at the risk of health issues that include heart disease and possibly more.

How trans fats cause heart disease

University of Illinois emeritus veterinary biosciences professor Fred Kummerow studied trans fats for six decades. Kimmerow ultimately discovered how trans fats lead to heart disease by slowing blood flow by interfering with an enzyme that is crucial for preventing activation of platelets in the blood that clump together to form clots.

In other words trans-fatsliterally clog our arteries and is considered more dangerous than saturated fat by clinicians.

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FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement: "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."

Trans fat is created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil which makes the oil solid.

To get trans fat out of our food the FDA is opening a 60-day comment period during which they plan to collect more data in addition to input from food manufacturers about how much time they need to reformulate products containing the artificial oils.

In 2003 the average American was consuming 4.6 grams per day. In 2012, the amount dropped to 1 gram a day thanks to voluntary action from many food manufacturers.

We're consuming less trans fat, but still too much

Despite efforts, there are still many foods that contain trans fats= including some desserts, frozen pizza, coffee creamers and some processed foods in addition to margarine.

If the FDA decides to ban trans fat after the review period the only way it could be added to food is if it's authorized and regulated.

We can hope we really might finally see the end of dangerous artificially produced trans fat in our food that not only lead to heart disease but has also been linked to depression.

Image credit: Pixabay