In 2007, New York City banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils in restaurants. Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to label the trans fat content of food. As public awareness of the dangers of trans fats has increased, the use of trans fats in foods has decreased. Food manufacturers have voluntarily reduced trans fats by more than 73%. On the heels of such changes, the FDA is finally taking note and stepping up with a possible trans fat ban.
The FDA Cracks Down
The FDA has classified partially hydrogenated oil—the main type of manmade trans fat in processed foods—as “generally not recognized as safe for use in foods.” Despite that warning, the FDA once estimated that nearly 95% of cookies, 100% of crackers, and 80% of frozen breakfast products were made with trans fat!
In an effort to crack down on partially hydrogenated oil (PHO), the FDA is planning to categorize PHOs as food additives and institute a ban on any “unapproved” use of these types of trans fats in food. That doesn’t mean PHOs won’t make an appearance in our foods; it only means that they will show up on a pre-approved basis. Which means you will still need to read labels to make sure you are not ingesting this dangerous, synthetic fat.
The FDA is giving food manufacturers 60 days to respond to the warning and provide details as to how long it will take to reformulate their processed products. Keep in mind, these products may be reformulated with similar types of artificial fats that don’t yet carry a black mark, but do carry just as many health risks as PHOs.
Many food manufacturers have already replaced trans fats with interesterified fats, which likewise contain chemical residues, hexanes (crude oil derivatives), and other poisons that cause oxidative damage and a vast array of health problems.
The Truth About Trans Fats
Trans fats were marketed as the health conscious alternative to saturated fats. We’ve since discovered that trans fat is much more like saturated fat’s evil twin.
Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oil in order to turn them into solid fats, producing synthetic substances such as shortening and margarine. Trans fatty acids are cost effective to produce, add flavor, and lengthen the shelf life of products…great for manufacturers, but destructive to your health and wellness!
Trans fats have been directly linked to an increased risk for coronary heart disease and dangerously high LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. According to the FDA, consumption of partially hydrogenated oils accounts for 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths every year!
While the FDA trans fat ban is in the beginning “proposal” stage right now, it thankfully calls attention to the dangers of partially hydrogenated oils. Until the ban is implemented, you can keep a watchful eye on the foods you consume. Read labels carefully, and watch out for frozen foods such as pizzas and pies, microwaved goodies such as popcorn, packaged baked goods and coffee creamers.