US moves to ban trans fats in foods

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US food safety officials have taken steps to ban the use of trans fats, saying they are a threat to health.

Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are no longer "generally recognised as safe", said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The regulator said a ban could prevent 7,000 deaths and 20,000 heart attacks in the US each year.

The FDA is opening a 60-day consultation period on the plan, which would gradually phase out trans fats.

"While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

"The FDA's action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat."

'Industrially produced ingredient'

If the agency's plan is successful, the heart-clogging oils would be considered food additives and could not be used in food unless officially approved.

The ruling does not affect foods with naturally occurring trans fats, which are present in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.

Foods containing trans fat

Trans fat label
  • Some processed baked goods such as cakes, cookies, pies
  • Microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, some fast food
  • Margarine and other spreads, coffee creamer
  • Refrigerator dough products such as cinnamon rolls

Source: US Food and Drug Administration

Artificial trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants as a way to improve the shelf life or flavour of foods. The fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, making it a solid.

Nutritionists have long criticised their use, saying they contribute to heart disease more than saturated fat.

Some companies have already phased out trans fats, prompted by new nutritional labels introduced in 2006 requiring it to be listed on food packaging.

New York City and some other local governments have also banned it.

But trans fats persist primarily in processed foods - including some microwave popcorns and frozen pizzas - and in restaurants that use the oils for frying.

According to the FDA, trans fat intake among Americans declined from 4.6g per day in 2003 to around 1g per day in 2012.

The American Heart Association said the FDA's proposal was a step forward in the battle against heart disease.

"We commend the FDA for responding to the numerous concerns and evidence submitted over the years about the dangers of this industrially produced ingredient," said its chief executive, Nancy Brown.

Outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the charge to ban trans fats in that city, said the FDA plan "deserves great credit".

"The groundbreaking public health policies we have adopted here in New York City have become a model for the nation for one reason: they've worked," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Now wait a minute, the lawyers will decide in the US if its banned or re-named. Wash D.C.Kstreet must lobby and wrangle and lobby. After all who will be sued is the question..nothing moves in the US until the lawyers are paid...nothing. Yes it should be banned as well as the sugars hidden in most us foods.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    An outright ban makes sense. There are those who consciously avoid such products, but then there are those who know no better. And at the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of national healthcare. For instance, why should a national healthcare system become so burdened?

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    I am all for this and let it get banned outright.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Please see the Wikipedia articles on shortening and the changes over the years. The vegetable version has been around for over 100 years - but the vegetable ingredient itself has changed.

    Some of these ingredients may have the reverse effect on your appetite-instead of satiate it, it increases your hunger -and if it is in all the foods you it, you just cant eat enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    17 Hours ago

    nothing wrong with butter, human body is wired to use it, so long as we don't eat it by the pound.

    Awwwww..i do enjoy my deep fried lurpak for supper...

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    Jarvish #11. the real problem is how cheap food is over there - all you can eat buffet breakfasts for a couple of bucks, vast buckets of ice cream for next to nothing etc etc.
    If our country was like that, we'll all be huge (or should I say huger) too....

    My stomach doesn't change in size to the price of food. I eat as much as that is satisfying. Americans just save money by eating cheaper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    206 cargols
    " I'm sick of larger people saying 'well, it's easy for 'people like you' ! ( meaning correct weight ) No, it isn't easy to stay slim ( ish. ) In todays world it demands great will power and hard work." Me too!! I struggle daily to keep my weight normal & have done for years, and resent fatties telling me its easy. How would they know, they've never tried!

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Direct treatment of diabetes : 9.8 billion
    Treatment of diabetes complications: 7.7 billion
    (including kidney failure, stroke, blindness and amputation)
    If you include extra heart disease, etc the 7.7 billion rises to 11 billion
    Direct treatment of obesity without diabetes: 4.2 billion (fat operations, fat pills)
    Diabesity total: 25 billion
    Total NHS cost 108 billion

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    There is agreement that trans-fats are bad--it will be good when they are banned. There are now questions being raised around whether saturated (natural animal) fats are bad and whether higher cholesterol is really bad (correlation is not causation). The high consumption of processed carbs in the modern diet is not being addressed, but carbs induce insulin production which causes fat to be stored.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Scottish farmers produce the best beef in the world yet the Westminster so called UK Government have just robbed Scottish farmers out of EU funds that should only go the Scottish farms. The UK qualified for the uplift was because of Scotland's low payments under the current system.

    So we are better together!

    I don't think so!

    Smell the coffee Scotland and vote YES next year and be well rid!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    238. Ralph

    In the 60s we didn't understand the difference between low-density and high-density lipoproteins. LDLs are the bad type of cholesterol, HDLs the good.

    If you raise your HDL levels and lower LDL levels, you run a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.

    Lowering your triglyceride levels is also important, which is achieved by reducing carbohydrates in your diet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    if one takes in more calories than one uses, then our bodies store calories as fat. Some people who have more or less unlimted food supplies eat to much and through out what they don't eat, and some people still have to manage on a few hundred calories a day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Why? they are not overweight in America are they?

    We have tended to pick up their bad eating habits so now hopefully we will also adopt their more positive moves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    It is probably the poorest and most vulnerable in society, ( children who can only eat what they are given.) who are effected most by trans fats. Seeing some young children in a disadvantaged part of the U.K clutching their greasy greggs pasties in the street at 10am ( breakfast? ) with their desperate and demoralised mum nearby springs to mind here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    Funny but to me (in Austin, Texas) it seemed like the most popular food items of 2013 were kale and bacon. Polar opposites!

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    As Europes fattest nation, the UK needs to be next, If the food lobby will let it happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    A little bit too late for some. Maybe it should be done here considering how many in the population are starting to look like whales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    9 pie and chips a day instead of 10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    238. Ralphstarbreaker - surfing around I found an sites by doctors against cholesterol studies - one stating no matter how hard he tried he could not find a ground zero study - all the papers seemed to be pointing to each other none to a common source.

    Also looking as allergies, on one site person noted canola oil raised his BP rather than taking drugs, dropped canola for olive oil BP ok.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    @203. It is thanks to the sorts of campaigns you mention that the licensing authorities, EU/FDA, have had to REVISE their thinking. At one time they ASSURED us that the products in my OP @217 were SAFE as houses, yet every one has been banned, removed or reduced because they are now SUSPECT. They lied, and when found out had to select reverse.

    Why pointing that out gets marked down is a mystery.


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