Popular foods like pie crusts – frostings – and microwave popcorn will largely be rid of artery-clogging trans fats after a decision by the Obama administration to phase them out over the next three years.The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ordered food companies to phase out artificial trans fats – calling them a threat to public health.
Consumers aren’t likely to notice much of a difference in their favourite foods – but the administration says the move will reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.
Scientists say there are no health benefits to the fats – which are used in processing food and in restaurants – usually to improve texture – shelf life – or flavour.
They can raise levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower ‘good’ cholesterol – increasing the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States.
The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid – which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils.
Once a staple of the American diet – used in shortening and microwave popcorn – most artificial trans fats are already gone.
The FDA says that between 2003 and 2012 people ate about 78 per cent less trans fat – as food companies began using other kinds of oils to replace them.
But some foods still have them and the FDA says those trans fats remaining in the food supply are a health concern.
Among the foods that commonly contain trans fats: frostings – pie crusts – biscuits – microwave popcorn – coffee creamers – frozen pizza – refrigerated dough – vegetable shortenings – and stick margarines.
(ed:..so..when will this be happening here – and why hasn’t it happened already..?..)
But not everyone is happy.’It’s certainly counter to the idea of American liberty and freedom’ said Daren Bakst – from the Heritage Foundation – a conservative thinktank.
‘It’s an overreach by the agency. The public will be extremely concerned’.
Between 2003 and 2013, the average daily consumption of trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils – decreased by 78%, from 4.6g to 1g per person. Bakst said that decline showed that the ban was unnecessary.
‘The industry has reduced the amount of trans fat in food products and the consumers are eating far less trans fat’ he said. ‘The question is: why in the world are they trying to address this now when it’s already voluntarily going down?
It’s not just problematic when it comes to partially hydrogenated oils. It’s also problematic because it sets a dangerous precedent when it comes to other potential ingredients they could start trying to regulate’.
Partially hydrogenated oils which contain trans fat – are used in processed foods to prolong shelf life while adding texture and flavour. But trans fats are considered worse than even saturated fats – themselves the bane of arteries everywhere – as a major contributor to heart disease. Advocates have argued that since food companies can create reformulations without partially hydrogenated oils – as evidenced by the voluntary reductions – there is no reason to have them in the food supply. Still – conservatives recoiled.
‘I just don’t know where it stops. There’s a lot of bad things out there that people shouldn’t be eating’ said Julie Gunlock a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum – a conservative personal liberty thinktank.