The debate on trans fat and how consuming it affects consumers’ and their health has been on-going for quite some time. Dietitians and doctors have been warning that eating foods containing trans fat can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries and increase chances of heart disease. After years of raising public awareness, the FDA has recently announced to enforce stricter laws regarding the use of trans fat in foods. One of those who played a central role in this initiative is former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
The new legislation, which takes effect in 2018, requires any food manufacturer to obtain explicit permission from the FDA to include them in any food produced. Previously, legislation only required that food manufacturers label foods that contained more than .5 percent of trans fat. The highly anticipated decision came in June 2016 and now states that artificial trans fat is no longer recognized as “safe.”
So what’s all this fuss with trans fat anyway?
Public health groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have been pushing for this ban for nine years. The risk of getting diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure increase greatly with the intake of trans-fatty acids. The American diet has been under scrutiny for the past decade and with recent studies it was becoming more evident that hydrogenated oils, and other artificial products containing trans-fatty acids, are harmful to the human body.
What does this mean for the average consumer?
Back in 2003, it was advised that food manufacturers started labeling foods that contained trans fat. The FDA has long since suggested that shoppers read all nutrition labels before making a purchase. With this new ban, it is estimated that heart disease and heart attack cases will decrease drastically.
What does this mean for food manufacturers?
Per the FDA, it is estimated that the use of trans fat has decreased by nearly 80 percent. For manufacturers who have yet to make the leap, they will have 3 years to make appropriate changes. Manufacturers and food service providers have long used the ingredient to extend shelf life and to balance taste along with texture. Phasing out trans fat will require them to find a suitable substitute.
Other concerns for manufacturers could be labeling and packaging. Many feel that they may have to recreate packaging based on listing of ingredients and nutrition labels. While these efforts do seem costly, the benefits for the public are undeniable.