The U.S. FDA took steps in June to remove artificial trans fats from processed foods. After its review of the scientific evidence, the agency declared that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fats, are not “generally recognized as safe” (known as “GRAS”) for use in food.
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Explore this issueAugust/September 2015
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Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association, agrees there are no safe levels of trans fat. “By FDA’s estimation, partially hydrogenated oils cause up to 7,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and should be phased out of the food supply as soon as possible,” he says. “FDA has also concluded that the economic benefits of eliminating the use of partially hydrogenated oil greatly outweigh the costs of switching to healthier oils.”
Although our publication doesn’t necessarily focus on public health issues of the food industry, FDA’s latest move will nonetheless impact our readers on how they manufacture their products.
The agency has set a compliance period of three years to allow food manufacturers to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs.
As manufacturers begin to explore ways to eliminate trans fats from their products, there is concern that many will turn to palm oil, which some experts believe isn’t any better for people’s health because it’s high in saturated fats. In addition, while palm oil is a cheap option, the majority used in America’s food supply is produced in ways that cause deforestation and human rights abuses in developing countries.
“It’s heartening that the FDA has banned trans fats for the health of U.S. consumers, but we must ensure this move does not create the perverse consequences of rain forest destruction and land grabbing in poor countries,” points out Jeff Conant, international forests campaigner, Friends of the Earth.
About Marian Zboraj
Marian Zboraj is the Professional Editor of Food Quality & Safety. She has worked on the publication since late 2012, working from the John Wiley & Sons corporate headquarters in Hoboken, N.J. Marian has extensive editorial experience, holding editorial positions in the B2B publishing industry since 2001 and working on a variety of topics such as nutracueticals, eyecare, and industrial manufacturing. She resides in northern New Jersey. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.