U.S. prohibits “Artificial Trans Fats” in processed foods
The U.S. FDA decided in June 2015 to prohibit “Artificial Trans fats” in processed foods. In order to comply with the new regulation, by 2018 food manufacturers have to remove trans fats from products or petition for an exemption. It is expected that this regulation will reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of lethal heart attacks every year in USA. The regulation is on the basis of extensive research and input from all stakeholders.
According to the final decision of FDA, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), that are the primary dietary source of “artificial trans fats” in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human foods. Food manufacturers consequently have to remove PHOs from the products within the next three years, by 2018. It is believed that gradually remove of PHOs from foods will lead to eliminating trans fats from American diet. However, the withdrawal excludes small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats found in meat and dairy products due to the difficulty in their removal.
· Trans fats in foods
Trans fats are formed when vegetable oil is partially hydrogenated to make it more solid and easier to use in the food production using the oils. Artificial trans fats can be used to enhance flavor or texture, or increase shelf life of products. With these benefits, they have been commonly used in most fried foods and food made with vegetable shortening.
Trans fats are found in a variety of processed food products, including:
· Baked goods: cakes, cookies, pie crusts , crackers and ready-made frosting
· Snacks: potato, corn , tortilla chips and packaged or microwave popcorn
· Fried foods: french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
· Refrigerator dough: canned biscuits, cinnamon rolls and frozen pizza crusts.
· Creamer and margarine: nondairy coffee creamer and stick margarines
Trans fats are considered the most harmful fat in the modern diet; because they significantly raise LDL (bad cholesterol); meanwhile reduce HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. They contribute to the risk of coronary heart disease that is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Consumers are encouraged to reduce the consumption of trans fats through reading a food ingredient list to examine whether or not a product contains PHOs.
At present, in the U.S., foods are allowed to be labeled as having “0” grams trans fats, when they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fats. The consumers should be careful of these hidden trans fats, as they can add up quickly, in particular if you eat several servings of foods with less than 0.5 grams per serving.
1) Aurora A. Saulo. University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. August 2015. What’s Happening in Food Safety and Technology? : August 2015: U.S. FDA orders Zero Artificial Trans Fats by June 2018.
4) FDA. June 16, 2015. The FDA takes step to remove artificial trans fats in processed foods. An online FDA News Release. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm451237.htm
5) Mayoclinic. June 19, 2015.Trans fats: avoid this cholesterol double whammy
An online article. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114