FDA moves to ban trans fats

In recently proposed rules, the FDA announced it plans to all but eliminate trans fats from the nation's food supply.Soon, physicians, certified medical assistants, pharmacy technicians and other health professionals may no longer have to worry about the dangers artificial trans fats pose to their patients. A measure recently proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will almost entirely eliminate the artery clogging substance, which is one of the largest contributors to heart disease in the U.S., from the nation’s food supply.1

The dangers of trans fats

The FDA declared that partially hydrogenated oils, which are the source of trans fats, are no longer recognized as safe, which clears the way for the administration to outlaw their use.

In order to continue including trans fats in food products, companies would have to scientifically prove that the substance is safe to eat. And that should be a difficult obstacle to overcome considering that most scientific literature, including work done by the Institute of Medicine, has concluded that artificial trans fats are not safe for consumption at any level.2

According to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the new rules could help prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease per year in the U.S.3

Impact of reduction of trans fats

The battle against trans fats has been going on for several years, with the FDA previously requiring that all products containing the substance be labeled as such, and places like New York City banning their use.

Those regulations led to a significant decline in trans fat intake among Americans, going from an average of 4.6 grams a day in 2006 to 1 gram a day in 2012. Still, the inclusion of trans fats in certain foods has persisted, and their outright elimination should be a boon to overall health in the U.S.

“This is about preventing people from being exposed to a harmful chemical that most of the time they didn’t even know was there,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The New York Times. “It’s quite important. It’s going to save a huge amount in health care costs and will mean fewer heart attacks.”

The FDA’s proposal is also good news for college students, since they are one of the populations that is most often exposed to trans fats. Pretty soon, they will no longer have to worry about unwittingly ingesting the harmful substance in fast food, microwave popcorn and many of the other traditional college treats.

1 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “FDA Targets Trans Fats in Processed Foods,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 7, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm
2 Taverinise, Sabrina, “F.D.A. Ruling Would All But Eliminate Trans Fats,” The New York Times, Nov. 7, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/health/fda-trans-fats.html
3 Carroll, Linda, “FDA Moves to Ban Trans Fats From Food, Citing Health Concerns,” NBCNews.com, Nov. 7, 2013. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/fda-wants-ban-trans-fats-food-8C11551559

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