FDA to ban artery-clogging trans fats - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

FDA to ban artery-clogging trans fats

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Heart-clogging trans fats have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant menus in the last decade. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is finishing the job.

The FDA planned to announce Thursday it will require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats, saying they are a threat to people's health. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.

Hamburg said that while the amount of trans fats in the country's diet has declined dramatically in the last decade, they "remain an area of significant public health concern." The trans fats have long been criticized by nutritionists, and New York and other local governments have banned them.

The agency isn't yet setting a timeline for the phase-out, but it will collect comments for two months before officials determine how long it will take. Different foods may have different timelines, depending how easy it is to find a substitute.

"We want to do it in a way that doesn't unduly disrupt markets," says Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods. Still, he says, the food "industry has demonstrated that it is by and large feasible to do."

To phase them out, the FDA said it had made a preliminary determination that trans fats no longer fall in the agency's "generally recognized as safe" category, which is reserved for thousands of additives that manufacturers can add to foods without FDA review. Once trans fats are off the list, anyone who wants to use them would have to petition the agency for a regulation allowing it, and that would be unlikely to be approved.

Trans fats are widely considered the worst kind for your heart, even worse than saturated fats, which can also contribute to heart disease. Trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants, often to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods. They are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils.

Scientists say there are no health benefits to trans fats and say they can raise levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease - the leading cause of death in the United States.

Many companies have already phased out trans fats, prompted by new nutrition labels introduced by FDA in 2006 that list trans fats and an by an increasing number of local laws that have banned them.

Though they have been removed from many items, the fats are still found in processed foods, including in some microwave popcorns and frozen pizzas, refrigerated doughs, cookies and ready-to-use frostings. They are also sometimes used by restaurants that use the fats for frying. Many larger chains have phased them out, but smaller restaurants may still get food containing trans fats from suppliers.

As a result of the local and federal efforts, consumers have slowly eaten fewer of the fats. According to the FDA, trans fat intake among American consumers declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to around one gram per day in 2012.

FDA officials say they have been working on trans fat issues for around 15 years - the first goal was to label them - and have been collecting data to justify a possible phase-out since just after President Barack Obama came into office in 2009.

The advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest first petitioned FDA to ban trans fats nine years ago. The group's director, Michael Jacobson, says the move is "one of the most important lifesaving actions the FDA could take."

He says the agency should try to move quickly as it determines a timeline.

"Six months or a year should be more than enough time, especially considering that companies have had a decade to figure out what to do," Jacobson said.

___

Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • 6 hurt when truck hits Dairy Queen near Pittsburgh

    6 hurt when truck hits Dairy Queen near Pittsburgh

    Friday, July 25 2014 1:01 AM EDT2014-07-25 05:01:26 GMT
    PITTSBURGH (AP) - Authorities say six people were injured and a gas line was damaged after a truck crashed into a Dairy Queen in suburban Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday in Penn Hills. A witness tells the newspaper that she was able to help an employee get out through a window after a cash register fell onto her. That employee, the manager and four men in the truck were taken to hospitals. The newspaper says firefighters secur...More >>
    PITTSBURGH (AP) - Authorities say six people were injured and a gas line was damaged after a truck crashed into a Dairy Queen in suburban Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday in Penn Hills. A witness tells the newspaper that she was able to help an employee get out through a window after a cash register fell onto her. That employee, the manager and four men in the truck were taken to hospitals. The newspaper says firefighters secur...More >>
  • UPDATED

    Ohio State marching band director fired

    Ohio State marching band director fired

    Thursday, July 24 2014 8:49 PM EDT2014-07-25 00:49:54 GMT
    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday amid allegations he knew about and ignored "serious cultural issues," some involving rituals where students were pressured to march in their underwear or participate in sexually themed stunts.More >>
    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday amid allegations he knew about and ignored "serious cultural issues," some involving rituals where students were pressured to march in their underwear or participate in sexually themed stunts.More >>
  • Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:38:16 GMT
    The family of an Indiana teenager who crashed in the Pacific Ocean during an around-the-world flight says he knew the risks and had prepared for them.More >>
    A man who saw a plane flown by an Indiana teen who was killed during an around-the-world flight attempt says the aircraft was flying low but didn't show any obvious signs of distress before diving into the ocean off...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms