Last month, the FDA published recommendations that would severely restrict the use of artificial trans fats, linked to heart attacks and strokes, in the manufacture of foods for consumption in the United States. The agency’s proposal says that foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) will no longer be designated “generally recognized as safe.” That means producers of foods that include trans fats will have to prove they are safe—in the face of much scientific evidence to the contrary.
“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. “The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat.”
“One of the FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe,” says Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils.”
A 60-day comment period on the proposal will continue through January 7. If, after reviewing submitted comments, the FDA makes this preliminary determination final, PHOs would be considered to be food additives, and they could not be used in foods without FDA approval. Food manufacturers would be given sufficient time, in the FDA’s words, “to reformulate products in order to minimize market disruption.” Read the FDA’s “tentative determination” on PHOs.