The Truth About Artificial Trans Fats

For decades Americans have been trying to reduce their consumption of artificial trans fats. Parents check the food labels when grocery shopping for their families and consumers are making better choices when eating out. Companies like McDonalds and Subway stepped up and made it easier by removing all artificial trans fats from their products. And Wal-Mart has pledged to no longer have artificial trans fat on their store shelves by 2015.

But there is still more to be done by government, industry and consumers to make sure that we have the tools we need to keep unsafe foods off our tables.

As a mom who cares deeply about nutrition, I too can get confused by what are good fats and bad fats. But independent scientists agree, there is no safe level of artificial trans fat.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHO), are an artificial substance that is formed by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil during processing to make it more solid. PHOs are the leading source of artificial trans fat; they cause plaque buildup in the arteries, are a contributing factor to heart attacks, and for too many, an early death. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a further reduction of artificial trans fat in the food supply can prevent up to 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and as many as 20,000 heart attacks each year.

Today, in keeping with their mission to keep the American food supply safe, the FDA released for public comment its preliminary determination, consistent with science, that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe.” FDA is seeking public comment on this finding as well as input on the amount of time that would potentially be needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.

The good news is that many food manufacturers have already taken this on—it is becoming easier to find foods without trans fats. FDA’s action could make it easier still. Today’s action is an important step in a direction that America has already begun to move in, which will keep us healthier while enjoying the foods we love.

 

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Related Topics: Urban Policy
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