Trans Fat No Longer Recognized As Safe by FDA

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Re-posted from Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Nutrition Action have been trying to reduce or eliminate the use of partially hydrogenated oil—the principal source of artificial trans fat—for 20 years. We’ve pushed for trans fat labeling on Nutrition Facts labels, we’ve published studies, we’ve sued fast-food restaurant chains, and we’ve called for local and state prohibitions on its use. In 2004 we asked the Food and Drug Administration to revoke its approval for partially hydrogenated oil altogether.

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Yesterday brought news of a major breakthrough.

The FDA has released its preliminary declaration that partially hydrogenated oil is no longer “generally recognized as safe” for use in food!

Artificial trans fat is a uniquely powerful promoter of heart disease, and today’s announcement will hasten its eventual disappearance from the food supply. Not only is artificial trans fat not safe, it’s not remotely necessary. We hope that those restaurant chains and food manufacturers that still use this dangerous ingredient see the writing on the wall and act now to replace it.

Though small amounts of trans fat occur in fatty meat and dairy foods, most of the trans fat in the food supply has come from industrially produced partially hydrogenated oils. Like saturated fat, trans fat raises LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which promotes heart disease. But unlike saturated fat, trans fat lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Trans fat may also promote heart disease in other ways, such as by damaging the endothelial cells that line blood vessels.

This major announcement paves the way for the eventual elimination of, or at the very least, strict curbs on, the use of artificial trans fat in food. This means that tens of thousands of heart attack deaths will be prevented in the years ahead. Most restaurant chains and food processors have already made enormous progress eliminating or sharply reducing artificial trans fat in food.

The FDA will soon be inviting public comment on its declaration, and we will be asking you to write in support of eliminating artificial trans fat from the food supply. But today I just want to share this breaking good news, and to say “thank you” for your longstanding support of our work.

You are a big part of the historic advance we are witnessing today.


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