FDA Aims to Ban Trans Fat From U.S. Food
Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared that they are giving food suppliers three years to completely take out artificial trans fat from all products.
The Ban on Trans Fat
According to the Washington Post, the FDA claims that eliminating artificial trans fat from food sources will reduce coronary disease and prevent thousands of heart attacks annually. Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition stated, “Today’s action is an important step forward for public health, and it’s an action that FDA is taking based upon the strength of the science that we have.”
This announcement gained significant praise from the American Heart Association and Center for Science in the Public Interest. However, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association is slightly critical of this ban and the feasibility of the approach. The group claims that allowing some trans fat in products is just as safe as the naturally occurring trans fat in our normal diets.
Restaurants and grocery stores have eliminated many products with artificial trans fat because of the adverse health effects they inflict on consumers. Food scientists claim that trans fat is still present in food supply stores. Even though the trans fat may be ingested in small quantities, it can quickly add up to dangerous amounts.
Food suppliers have been required to list the amount of trans fat in the Nutrition Facts labels on products since 2006. This has led to an 80 percent decrease in the use of trans fat from 2003 to 2012.
More About Trans Fat
Trans fat has been used in food sources for over 100 years, with a particular spike in the 1940s. Trans fat is found in pizzas, microwave popcorn, pancake mix, and much more. Trans fat is used to enhance flavor, prolong shelf life, and save money because animal based fats such as lard and butter are more expensive.
In the 1980s, scientists thought that artificial trans fat was actually safer than natural saturated fat. About ten years later, scientists realized the negative impacts that artificial trans fat poses for consumers such as heart disease and heart attacks.
The Institute of Medicine discovered in 2002 that there are no safe levels of artificial trans fat and that it should be consumed as little as possible. After this finding, consumption of trans fat in America fell from 4.6 grams in 2003 to one gram per day in 2012. In addition, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and others have eliminated artificial trans fat from restaurants. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts and even Walmart have required their food suppliers to cut out all traces of trans fat in the products.
In 2013, the FDA announced that artificial trans fat should no longer be listed among the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) products, as it has been proven that this substance is not safe for the human diet. As of now, food manufacturers that wish to use artificial trans fat in their products must get permission from the FDA and meet very meticulous regulations and safety requirements. This rule was made given the scientific proof that artificial trans fat is in no way safe- to further the protection against artificial trans fat use in food products.
The FDA has conducted an economic analysis, claiming that the ban on artificial trans fat will cost food manufacturers approximately $6 billion over the next 20 years. However, the savings in medical care from the reduction of heart attacks and coronary diseases will result in over $130 billion in savings.