The Food and Drug Administration proposed regulations on Thursday to eliminate artificial trans fat from the U.S. food supply. The measures would deem hydrogenated oils -- the source of trans fats -- no longer safe. SSince the Institute of Medicine says there is no safe level at which to consume artificial trans fats, companies will have a hard time challenged the proposal during the 60-day comment period. The FDA says the rules may prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year.
The NYT's reports:
"The move concluded three decades of battles by public health advocates against artificial trans fats, which occur when liquid oil is treated with hydrogen gas and made solid. The long-lasting fats became popular in frying and baking and in household items like margarine, and were cheaper than animal fat, like butter.
But over the years, scientific evidence has shown they are worse than any other fat for health because they raise the levels of so-called bad cholesterol and can lower the levels of good cholesterol. In 2006, an F.D.A. rule went into effect requiring that artificial trans fats be listed on food labels, a shift that prompted many large producers to eliminate them. A year earlier, New York City told restaurants to stop using artificial trans fats in cooking. Many major chains like McDonalds, found substitutes, and eliminated trans fats.
Those actions led to major advances in public health: Trans fat intake declined among Americans to about one gram a day in 2012, down from 4.6 grams in 2006. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that blood levels of trans fatty acids among white adults in the United States declined by 58 percent from 2000 to 2009.
But the fats were not banned, and still lurk in many popular processed foods, such as microwave popcorn, certain desserts, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers."
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that artificial trans fats are required to be on the label only if there is more than half a gram per serving, a trace amount that can add up fast and lead to increased risk of heart attack.
As little as two or three grams of trans fat a day can increase the health risk, according to scientists.
But remember, some trans fats occur naturally. The F.D.A. proposal only applies to those that are added to foods.