Trans fats extend shelf life of food while possibly shortening human life. The Food and Drug Administration is limiting the use of artificial trans fats to help eliminate health concerns that stem from it. Trans fats are found in many baked goods as well as microwave popcorn and other snacks. They are made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. This makes it more solid and act more like butter.
Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Commissioner of the FDA, states that limiting these types of fats could reduce coronary heart disease and help prevent fatal heart attacks. Trans fats are blamed for helping cholesterol levels raise, clog and harden arteries and raising stroke and heart disease levels.
The new rules state that partially hydrogenated oils that help make trans fat are no longer “generally recognized as safe” meaning companies that produce foods would ask the FDA for permission to use the process to make their foods. The FDA allows food manufacturers to label their food as having no trans fats if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving, but after 2018 this all changes. Even trace amounts cannot be used in food production after this time. hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. This makes it more solid and act more like butter.
Trans fats were once a staple in kitchen as people normally ate things like shortening and microwave popcorn without a second thought. Most trans fats are already out of food production, but some foods still are made with them. Most people say consumers will not notice a difference because trans fats don’t usually have a taste. They are mainly used to improve texture and boost shelf life. Many places already use substitutes for trans fats. Some food producers use liquid oils like sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil and canola oil as substitutes.
Large retailers and chain restaurants have mainly stopped using trans fats. Many smaller restaurants have not yet switched to substitutes because they still get food from their suppliers that contain trans fats.
Helping to shape the initiative was former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The FDA’s ban on trans fats is a plan to help prevent heart disease and the overall health of consumers.