The Food and Drug Administration is making a big move to phase out trans fats from Americans' diets. The days of your favorite artery-clogging ingredient, partially hydrogenated oils, may soon be numbered.
If you have an opinion on the impending death of partially hydrogenated oils, you may want to "weigh in" on the FDA's comment period.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs)
The FDA announced that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in foods. Trans fats are considered harmful because they increase risks for heart disease by both raising bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL), according to the FDA's press release.
While some states and cities such as New York and California have barred trans fat from restaurants, food producers are still free to include it in their products. One of the major reasons food producers use PHOs is to keep costs down. It's a less expensive fat than available alternatives.
The FDA's PHOs ban could potentially prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths, according to the release.
How to Make a Comment
Under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Obama signed into law in 2011, the FDA is accepting public comment on the draft regulation for 60 days before it becomes binding.
The FDA issues a proposed rule, which is published in the Federal Register (FR) as well as the FDA's official docket, so that members of the public can review it and send their comments to the agency.
The agency hopes to collect additional data and to get input on how much time it might take for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fats.
If the rule becomes binding, PHOs would be considered “food additives” and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation.
In the meantime, the FDA urges consumers check trans fat levels on the nutrition facts panel on the back of processed food packages and avoid those products with trans fats.