Trans fats to be tossed from food supply, FDA rules

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jun 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-16 11:01:58-04

Trans fats are no longer safe — in the heart or on store shelves.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided Tuesday to remove the “generally recognized as safe” designation for partially hydrogenated oils (PHO’s) also known as artificial trans fats. Phasing them out will take three years.

"This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.” said Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner of the FDA, in a press release.

Trans fats are most commonly found in processed foods and have been linked to several health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping trans fat consumption "as low as possible." 

The American Public Health Association called the ruling a “public health victory.”

“The evidence is clear. There is no safe level of trans fat,” said Georges Benjamin, executive commissioner of the APHA, in a statement. “By FDA’s estimation, partially hydrogenated oils cause up to 7,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and should be phased out of the food supply as soon as possible.”

Heart Disease Deaths in the United States | FindTheData

Trans fats promote bad LDL cholesterol and depress good HDL cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. That can lead to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Trans fats naturally occur in small amounts in meat and dairy products. Manufacturers use artificial trans fats because they are inexpensive and have a long shelf life.

Consumption of trans fats decreased by 78 percent from 2002 to 2012, the FDA said. Trans fats content was added to nutrition labels in 2006.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.