FDA Moves to Eliminate Trans Fats from Americans' Diets

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There may be big changes to donuts, coffee creamer, and movie theater popcorn coming in the future as the Food and Drug Administration or FDA begins to restrict an essential ingredient in all three foods. Thursday, the FDA announced that it was taking steps to remove trans fat from Americans' diets. According to The Los Angeles Times, “FDA officials say this move can prevent as many as 7,000 deaths and 20,000 heart attacks a year.” While the proposed move doesn’t completely necessitate the banning of trans fats in food, it does place the onus of proving that they are not harmful on the companies that wish to use them. 

While minimal amounts of trans fat occur naturally in some foods, most of the substance used in processed foods is created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. This makes the vegetable oil more solid, but also has contributed to arterial blockage and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

According to a 2002 study mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, because trans fats “are not essential and provide no known health benefit, there is no safe level of trans fatty acids.” Already a number of foods found in grocery stores like Kraft and fast-food chains like McDonald’s have removed trans fat from their products, but its use is still so prevalent an all-out ban has been called “impractical.”

However, the FDA’s adoption of the policy that no amount of trans fats are safe does not mean that one bite of the stuff puts someone at risk. According to WebMD, people who take in 2000 calories per day should limit trans fats to “about 2 grams” in order to stay healthy. This is easy to monitor, since the FDA has required food manufacturers to list trans fats on nutrition labels since 2006.