The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made a preliminary determination that a major source of trans fat in processed food is no longer “generally recognized as safe.”
In a statement put out today, the FDA said, if this determination is finalized, “it could, in effect, mean the end of artificial, industrially-produced trans fat in foods.”
Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to declare the amount of trans fat on food labels because of public health concerns. Despite that ruling, there are still many processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils , the major dietary source of trans fat in processed food.
According to the FDA, Trans fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, in which plaque builds up inside the arteries and may cause a heart attack. The Centers 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.
In its statement, the FDA says, “due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs, FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer ‘generally recognized as safe’… If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.”
FDA is soliciting comments on how such an action would impact small businesses and how to ensure a smooth transition if a final determination is issued.
Trans fat wouldn’t be completely gone, as it also occurs naturally in small amounts in meat, dairy products and some oils.