FDA targets trans fat in processed foods

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Monday, November 11, 2013

Part of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) responsibility to the public is to ensure that food in the American food supply is safe. Therefore, due to the risks associated with consuming Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS, for short.

If this preliminary determination is finalised, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.

Trans fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, in which plaque builds up inside the arteries and may cause a heart attack. However, there are still many processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major dietary source of trans fat in processed food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.

If FDA determines that PHOs are not GRAS, it could, in effect, mean the end of artificial, industrially-produced trans fat in foods, says Dennis M. Keefe, Ph.D., director of FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety. FDA is soliciting comments on how such an action would impact small businesses and how to ensure a smooth transition if a final determination is issued.

Trans fat wouldn't be completely gone, Keefe notes, because it also occurs naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products. It is also present at very low levels in other edible oils, such as fully hydrogenated oils, where it is unavoidably produced during the manufacturing process.
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