November 8, 2013
Washington, DC- The nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization is praising this week’s announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its intent to no longer qualify partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fat, as a safe additive for use in processed foods. FDA plans to require approval for PHO additives, making foods with unapproved PHO additives illegal.
“Consumers deserve to feel that the food they’re buying is safe and healthy,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. “We have known for years that trans fats are not healthy, and many food manufacturers and consumers have taken steps to reduce the amount we consume. However, it’s time to make it official, and we are pleased to see the FDA take such definitive action to remove this harmful product from the marketplace."
Trans fat originating from PHOs is currently found in a variety of processed foods, including frozen pizza, coffee creamer, microwave popcorn, and margarine.
In 1990, a surgeon general’s report publicized the harmful effects of trans fat, which prompted food manufacturers to use less trans fat in food. According to an FDA report, American consumers reduced their trans fat consumption from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about a gram a day in 2012. The current intake, however, remains a concern. A report by the Centers for Disease Control states that further reduction in the amount of trans fat Americans consume could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease annually. The Institute of Medicine concluded that there is no safe level of artificial trans fat consumption.
Should the new determination by FDA be finalized, it would cover only partially hydrogenated oils, not naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy products. The FDA has opened a 60-day comment period after which it will review submitted comments and finalize its preliminary determination. Once finalized, this determination will take great steps toward the elimination of artificial trans fat.
“This action by FDA is a victory for consumers who seek a more healthful diet,” said Greenberg. “Eliminating unhealthy trans fats will ensure that even those consumers who aren’t aware of its dangers no longer have access to something that shouldn’t be a part of their diets.”
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.