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FDA declares partially hydrogenated oils no longer regarded as safe

Posted:  Thursday, June 25, 2015

After an intense review, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are not generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for inclusion in human diet. Partially hydrogenated oils are a major source of artificial trans fat in processed food items.

Staying true to their commitment to safeguard public health, the FDA has taken this bold step to prevent heart disease and keep heart attacks at bay. The FDA has granted food manufacturers a 3-year compliance period following which the use of PHOs in products for human consumption will require FDA’s approval.

It is estimated that reformulation of food products as well as inclusion of trans fat content on food label of products to keep the consumers informed has resulted in a 78% reduction in trans fat consumption. The FDA however expressed concern that the current intake of trans fats is a public health problem.

According to the Institute of Medicine good health is the result of a well balanced diet with low trans fat content. In order to follow this guideline, the FDA advises consumers to read food labels and purchase products containing little or no trans fat (in the form of PHOs).

In the light of this declaration, Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director of the FDA's Centre for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said, "Studies show that diet and nutrition play a key role in preventing chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and today's action goes hand in hand with other FDA initiatives to improve the health of Americans, including updating the nutrition facts label. This determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from all stakeholders received during the public comment period."

It is important to note that manufacturers are allowed to claim “0” grams trans fat in food products with less than 0.5g per serving. The FDA hopes to wean out the use of PHOs in food products by the end of three years as many manufacturers have already undertaken the task of reformulating food products.

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