Food Companies are Trying to Hide Trans Fat in our Food, Despite FDA Ban

Food Companies are Trying to Hide Trans Fat in our Food, Despite FDA Ban
Food Ingredients

First, the good news: the FDA has ordered food companies to remove trans fats from their products over the next three years. The bad news: many food companies are looking for a way around the directive.

In June, the agency announced that it would require food companies to gradually get rid of artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenized oils (PHOs) over the next three years. But the FDA said it would allow food companies to petition the government to use them sparingly.

The agency said in 2013 that it had made a preliminary determination that PHOs no longer fall into the “generally recognized as safe” category. Thousands of other food additives fall under the heading.

If the food industry gets its way, PHOs could still find their way into shortening, pie crusts, brownies, and microwave popcorn. [1]

On Wednesday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association announced that it is petitioning the FDA to continue putting trans fats in hundreds of products, from tiny amounts in breakfast cereals to larger amounts in shortening and pie crusts. The food industry says any PHOs it continues to put in food products would be too small to increase heart disease risk – no more so than the naturally occurring trans fats found in meat and dairy products. [1]

Read: 3 Ways Trans Fats are Still Lurking in Your Food

PHOs are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it more solid. There are no health benefits associated with trans fats, only risks. PHOs are known to clog arteries, putting consumers at greater risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Trans fats are considered the worst types of fats for your heart, even worse than saturated fats during their most vilified moments. They are typically added to foods to increase shelf life, for texture ,or to enhance flavor. [1]

The group’s petition asks the FDA for permission to add less than a gram of fat to certain foods, but trans fats are a health risk even in very small amounts. [1]

The FDA has required companies to list trans fat content on their product labels since 2006, but just because a label says “Trans fats 0 grams per serving,” that doesn’t make it so. Companies that make food containing 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can round that number down to zero.

The American Heart Association says that based on a 2,000-calorie diet, people should consume less than 2 grams of trans fats per day (zero if you can help it), so it wouldn’t take long to reach that limit by eating foods hiding less than 0.5 grams of PHOs per serving. [2]

[1] CBS News

[2] Natural Society