Trans fats may be on their way out of U.S. foods.
The Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to have so-called partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the main source of artificial trans fats in processed foods, to be classified as food additives. That means they won t be allowed to be used in food without authorization of the FDA, which may effectively ban the substances.
FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told reporters Wednesday that the action is being considered because PHOs are not generally recognized as safe for use in food.
The agency will allow 60 days for comments from the public and food manufacturers, asking the latter how long it might take to reformulate current products should the determination be finalized.
The agency pointed out some companies have voluntarily been scaling back the amount of trans fat in foods. But it wants more to be done - an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year could be prevented by reducing trans fats, according to the FDA.
These are significant numbers, said Hamburg.
While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern, she added in a statement. The FDA s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat.