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...


Comments 5 of 258


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