US Food and Drug Administration announced a new rule on trans-fat, essentially banning it from the food supply within three years in order to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.
Under the new rule, the major dietary source of trans-fat, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) and cannot be added to foods after June 18, 2018, without specific approval from the FDA. In 2013, the FDA had made a tentative determination that trans fats were no longer safe, after years of public comment and scientific review this is the final step in the process.
PHOs or partially hydrogenated oils have been used as ingredients since the 1950s to extend their shelf life.
“In this case, it has become clear that what’s good for extending shelf-life is not equally good for extending human life,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Mayne says that the FDA began requiring that trans fat be listed on the Nutrition Facts label in January 2006, but only if the product had 1/2 gram or more of trans fat per serving. A product with up to 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving could still declare “0g of trans fat” on its label, leaving consumers in the dark about PHOs unless they read the ingredients list. PHOs can be found in some brands of popular food products, such as frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, stick margarines and coffee creamers. And for consumers who consistently choose products with added PHOs, their daily intake of industrially-produced trans fat is approximately twice as high as the average consumer.
Eating a diet rich in trans fat is also linked to higher body weight, heart disease and memory loss. It has been shown to raise the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol in the blood which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Now PHOs is no longer generally recognized as safe, FDA is providing a three-year compliance period. This will allow industry to gradually phase out the remaining uses over a three-year period, or seek food additive approval for those uses