The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that they will seek banning artificial trans fats in processed foods.
“Artificial trans fat is a uniquely powerful promoter of heart disease, and today’s announcement will hasten its eventual disappearance from the food supply,” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, said.
In the FDA’s official statement, they cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates that a further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.
While some trans fats are produced naturally, nearly half of trans fats consumed by Americans are artificially produced. The FDA says that artificial trans fats are “produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid.”
Artificial trans fats are found in popular American snacks and meals, such as frozen pizza, movie theater popcorn, coffee creamer, cake frosting, and even the ever-popular Girl Scout cookie, the Thin Mint. These foods are often considered American staples, and have been popular due to both their shelf life and their ability to feed time-crunched families.
The move to ban artificial trans fats comes as the Grocery Manufacturers Association say that food manufacturers have willingly and voluntarily lowered the amount of trans fats in their food by 73 percent.
The FDA’s proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period, in which food companies are expected to outline how long they expect it to take them to reformulate product, reports Reuters.
If the proposal passes the 60-day comment period, partially hydrogenated oils would be considered food additives and would not be allowed in food unless authorized by health officials.