The Food and Drug Administration proposed measures on Thursday that would all but eliminate artery-clogging, artificial trans fats from the food supply. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/health/fda-trans-fats.html?hp They still lurk in many popular products, like frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Banning them completely could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year, the F.D.A. Said.
The proposal is a rare political victory in an era when many regulations to protect public health have stalled. A landmark food safety bill took years to carry out, in part because it collided with the 2012 election season. And rules to regulate the tobacco industry are still stuck, four years after the law calling for them was passed.
The agency has proposed that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, no longer be “generally recognized as safe.”
The Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no safe level for consumption of them, a conclusion that the F.D.A. cited in its reasoning.
Partially hydrogenated oils are cheaper than saturated animal fats like butter, and for years were thought to be healthier. They are formed when liquid oil is treated with hydrogen gas and made solid. They became popular in fried and baked goods and in margarine.
In 2003, the F.D.A. required that artificial trans fats be listed on food labels.
Even as little as two or three grams of trans fat a day can increase the health risk, scientists say.
Denmark was the first country to virtually eliminate trans fat from foods in 2003, said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which first petitioned the F.D.A. to require the fats be listed on nutrition labels in 1994. Austria, Iceland and Switzerland followed.