The FDA announced a proposal last week that would ban all artificial trans fats from the American diet. With legislation yet to pass and rumors swirling, we thought we’d clear things up for you.
What are Trans Fats?
There are natural traces of trans fat in animal products such as milk, but it is the artificially-made trans fat first used to better the mass production of food products that is raising FDA concerns. Artificial trans fat can extend shelf life and add texture to processed foods, but at a cost. Consumption of artificial trans fat leads to health risks such as coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, irregular cholesterol and obesity.
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The Progress Report
Food industries have been trying to eliminate trans fat from their ingredients for the past decade. New York City banned the use of artificial trans fat in restaurant food back in 2006, and San Francisco followed suit in 2010. This FDA proposal has now moved to eliminate trans fat from the GRAS list, the FDA’s publicized list of foods “generally recognized as safe,” claiming there to be “no safe level” of artificial trans fat, due to its many negative side effects. Today, statistics say that only 12% of packaged foods contain artificial trans fat.
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What This Means For Your Groceries
Although not many products still contain artificial trans fat today, many of the most common groceries do. Artificial trans fat can often be found in coffee creamers, microwave popcorn, desserts, baking frosting, margarine, frozen pizzas, chewy candies and commercially baked goods. If legislation were to pass, the FDA would hold a 60-day feedback period where food companies will propose an allowance of time to meet the new requirements. All naturally-occurring trans fat would not be part of the ban. In other words, all milk products would remain unchanged.
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The Fate of Your Favorite Eateries
Major corporations such as Crisco, Orville Redenbacher, and Dunkin Donuts have already made the switch to trans fat-free ingredients. Several studies show that it is possible to reformat almost all mass-produced food products, and many experts in the nutritional and economic fields dismiss the apocalyptic rumors of essential items discontinuing.
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