Farewell to (Trans) Fats
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 25, 2015 10:23 AM
Quick Brief: The FDA passed new regulations removing partially hydrogenated oils from the "generally recognized as safe" category of foods.  Manufacturers have 3 years to remove such from their products, or seek special permission from the FDA to include them in their foods.  Naturally occurring trans fats are not affected by the regulation.

 

A number of popular foods are about to lighten up. The FDA is all but banning the use of partially hydrogenated oils in processed food. Under the new FDA regulations, partially hydrogenated oils, which have been shown to raise LDL cholesterol, will be considered food additives that cannot be used unless authorized by the FDA.  Found in some processed foods, including desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, coffee creamer, and margarines, transfats can raise LDL ''bad'' cholesterol and lower HDL ''good" cholesterol. 

The FDA decision removes trans fats from a category of ingredients known as 'generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). Ingredients in this category can be added to food without FDA approval. The new regulations take effect in three years, giving companies time to either reformulate products without partially hydrogenated oils or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of them.  Following the compliance period, no partially hydrogenated oils can be added to human food unless they are otherwise approved by the FDA.

Trans fats are used to help give foods stability, extend shelf life, and sometimes improve ''mouth feel,'' the response to a food's texture and flavor.  Food makers pointed out that they’ve been gradually phasing out trans fats for years, but warn that in the future some foods won't taste the same without them.

In 2013 the FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils, the major dietary source of trans fat in processed foods, are no longer recognized as safe because they increase the risk of heart disease.  These oils are formed during food processing when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid. Reducing their use could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths, the agency said.

The industry has reformulated many products using palm, sunflower, safflower and other oils. But there are some products that have relatively low levels of trans fats and cannot easily be reformulated.

Naturally occurring trans fat found in milk and certain meat products would not be affected by the rules.