Today, the FDA finalized its determination that trans fats, made from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS, for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove this ingredient from products.
FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff said in a statement, “the FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fats demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans. This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Since 2006, food manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on nutrition labels on all food products. But manufacturers could put “0 grams trans fat” on the label if the product contained less than 0.5 mg of trans fat per serving. The problem? Most people eat more than one “serving” of many foods, which means they easily consume more than 0.5 mg of trans fats a day.
Still, industry reformulation of foods and the information on labels let consumers reduce trans fat consumption 78% between 2003 and 2012. The Institute of Medicine recommends that “consumption of trans fat be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally-adequate diet.”
The three year compliance period will give companies time to reformulate products or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of partially hydrogenated oils. After the compliance period has ended, no partially hydrogenated oils can be added to human food unless approved by the FDA.