Trans Fat: FDA Banning the Artery Clogger

Life, Science

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Just when you thought you'd given up on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of food; think food and drug recalls, criminal investigations into their employees and scientists, and worse, they start acting like they care. But do they?

It is highly unlikely, sadly, after all they are a governmental agency with their pockets lined by big Pharma and big Agribusiness, but this latest ban of trans fat might just give them some credibility in the public eye again.

With the number one killer in America being heart disease, the only question for the FDA is “what took you so long?”

Like saturated fats, trans fats raise LDL "bad" cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. But unlike saturated fats, trans fats lower HDL "good" cholesterol and may do more damage. They are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in an effort to make it more solid.

They are used both in processed food and in restaurants, most times just to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of your favorite foods such as pie, doughnuts, cake frosting and other processed foods. Although they’ve been removed from a lot of items, and are labeled as so, they still exist and are wreaking havoc on human health.

The FDA has finally removed them from their “generally safe” category, which is a category that allows food manufacturers to stick thousands of additives without the long and tedious FDA approval.

Many companies have removed trans fats from their products after the FDA introduced new nutrition labels in 2006 with a requirement that trans fats be listed.

New York City banned them in 2007, as Mayor Bloomberg said, “Our prohibition on trans fats was one of many bold public health measures that faced fierce initial criticism, only to gain widespread acceptance and support."

The American public has seen a slow decline in the trans fats showing up in their foods, however, they’re still there. The FDA claims that the consumption was 4.6 grams per day in 2003, but has dropped to about 1 gram per day in 2012.

Fifteen years of progress is finally making its way into the public food system, first labeling, and now phasing them out completely. Trans fats were obviously a big fail.

Images via Wikimedia Commons
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