The Federal Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it will be banning trans fats in commercially produced food in grocery stores and restaurants. Trans fat is considered to be the most unhealthy form of fat, leading to high cholesterol, inflammation throughout the body, heart attacks, and other cardio issues. They are created by solidifying vegetable oil with the addition of hydrogen, and according to nutritionists, provide no health benefits what so ever. Trans fat is also known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg predicts that the ban will prevent as many as 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths. The food industry has been gradually phasing trans fats out of food for years, and since 2006 food labels have alerted customers to the presence of trans fats in their food. However, this weeks actions mark the strongest national recognition of the dangers of trans fats.
Even so, don’t expect all trans-fatty foods to immediately disappear. During the next sixty days, the FDA will be collecting comments, and doing extensive research, and then announce its final decision. At this point, the FDA says it will grant manufacturers time to find easy substitutes for trans fats in their food. Michael Jacobson, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest expects it to take six months for all foods in the US to be entirely trans fat free.
In the meantime, foods that may still contain trans fats include margarine, microwave popcorn and pizzas, frosting, cookies, doughnuts and refrigerated dough, so keep an eye on the packaging.
For more information on the recent ban, take a look at