While the Food and Drug Administration ignores some of the biggest health threats faced by the nation, we can at least be reminded that the organization is finally paying attention to consumer complaints about trans fats. In an uncommon show of good sense, the FDA is requiring that companies phase out the artery-clogging, heart disease-igniting ingredient.
As reported by CNN:
“The FDA on Tuesday ruled that trans fat is not ‘generally recognized as safe’ for use in human food.
The department gave food manufacturers three years to remove the partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, from their products. The companies can petition the FDA for a special permit to use it, but no PHOs can be added to human food unless otherwise approved by the FDA.
Eating a diet rich in trans fat is linked to higher body weight, heart disease and memory loss. It has been shown to raise the ‘bad,’ or LDL, cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death in the United States.”
The agency’s acting commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff said:
“The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans. This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Food companies are complaining that this move will cost them as much as $200,000 per product, but if they are smart enough to see the rising tide in customer awareness concerning processed products, they’ll be lucky to keep a viable business at all.
In the past, food companies were not even required to label their foods containing trans fats, even though some cookies and crackers were made of over 30 percent of the unhealthy, processed trans fatty acids. Food companies were big on using this product in place of healthier oils because it reduced the cost of making their products – but it also made them costly to consumers who suffer ill health from eating foods made with trans fats.
Past guidelines were ‘trans fats consumption should be as low as possible’ – of course consumers had no idea how much trans fat they were consuming when products weren’t labeled. Sound familiar? Now, no longer will cakes, canned goods, and numerous frozen foods contain trans fats.
Margaret Hamburg, the FDA Commissioner states that when trans fats are phased out over a three-year period, more than 20,000 heart attacks and 7000 deaths annually will be prevented.