Trans Fat Ban

On January 7, 2014 New York City will be taking the initiative on the trans fat ban. Trans fat is a type of artificial unsaturated fat. It is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. In this process, liquid oil can be transformed into a solid fat. By completing this process it gives the foods that include trans fat a longer shelf life, and a less greasy feel. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is now starting to require the U.S. food industry to slowly phase out the hydrogenated oil. New York is the first to get to work on this ban. Here are some facts about past action, and what the plan is for the future:

Past FDA Action:

  • 1999: Food Labeling: Trans Fatty Acids in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrient Content Claims, and Health ClaimsFDA proposed that trans-fat content be provided in nutrition labeling to help consumers determine how each food product contributes to their overall dietary intake of trans fat.
  • 2003: Final rule amending our nutrition labeling regulations to require declaration of the trans fatty acid content of food in the nutrition label of conventional foods and dietary supplements.
  • 2006: Trans-fat labeling rule took effect January 1st.
  • Trans fat <0.5g can be labeled as 0g
  • Trans fat ≥0.5g put be labeled in 0.5g increments

Current Situation:

On November 8, 2013 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS.

The petition does not include fully hydrogenated or other refined oils that have residual trans fats as a unintentional byproduct of their manufacturing process (e.g. deodorization).
If the preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA.
Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.
FDA estimates that removing PHO from the food supply will cost $8billion
Estimated benefits $117-242 billion in related health care costs saved

Important note:This is not an immediate ban, but rather the beginning of a long process. There is a 60-day comment period, and if the determination holds, there will be phase out periods for removing PHOs as an ingredient in foods.

15 Items Containing Trans-Fat:

  • Snack cakes & desserts
  • Refrigerated dough
  • Cookies
  • Frozen snacks & appetizers
  • Frozen pizza
  • Frozen breakfast foods
  • Box dinners
  • Salty snacks
  • Potato & Stuffing
  • Single serve meals
  • Breakfast to go
  • Soup
  • Tortillas
  • Cold cereal
  • Margarines & spreads
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