The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a press statement specifying that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. The FDA’s preliminary determination is based on expert scientific panels and available research. The purpose is to classify PHOs as food additives, subject to more stringent scrutiny.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat. Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health.”
“One of the FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the major source of trans fat in processed food.”
In recent years, many food manufacturers and retailers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods and products they sell based on recommendations by the Independent Institute of Medicine that transfat does not provide any known health benefit. Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers and the risk of coronary heart disease is increased by consumption of artificial trans fat.
The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.
To submit comments by mail, send to the FDA at:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
All submissions must include the agency name and docket number.