The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today filed a notice in the Federal Register, asking for comments on a proposed ban on trans fats in processed foods. On its website, the FDA says labeling of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) has made consumers more aware of trans fats, but says The Center 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.
FDA says in recent years, many food manufacturers and retailers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods and products they sell. "Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Numerous retailers and manufacturers have already demonstrated that many of these products can be made without trans fat," it states.
Following a review of the submitted comments, if the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, PHOs would be considered "food additives" and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation. If such a determination were made, the agency would provide adequate time for producers to reformulate products in order to minimize market disruption. The FDA’s preliminary determination is only with regard to PHOs and does not affect trans fat that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.
In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said the industry has dramatically reduced the amount of trans fats in food products. "Through our efforts at product reformulation and the development of suitable alternatives, trans fats that are not naturally occurring have been drastically reduced in the food supply," according to the statement. "Consumers can be confident that their food is safe and we look forward to working with the FDA to better understand their concerns and how our industry can better serve consumers."
The Federal Register notice will be open for comment for 60 days and is available at this link.