FDA moves to phase out trans-fats by 2018

Global Business

Goodbye to the trans fats 2

The average American diet is about to see some changes. Federal regulators acted earlier this month to ban trans fats from all food products in the U.S. – ordering them phased out by 2018.

The Food and Drug Administration calls the source of these trans fats — partially hydrogenated oil– a threat to public health. Many health experts are applauding the move – saying it will prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.

Foods like french fries, popcorn, and cupcakes may taste good but they could be hazardous to your health. These foods have one potentially deadly ingredient in common: trans fat. While food companies have been required for several years to list trans fats on nutrition labels, the labels don’t tell the full story. A box of cake, for example, says ‘zero trans fat’ but in fact, it does contain partially hydrogenated oil. If a suggested serving size contains less than half a gram, food companies are allowed to say “trans fat free.”

That won’t be the case anymore. In 2003, Denmark became the first country to ban trans fatty acids in most restaurants. That same year, Canada introduced mandatory trans fat content labeling on food products and the US did the same in 2006.

In 2008, New York City banned restaurant use. And a year later, Austria and Switzerland followed suit. Until now, California had the only statewide restaurant ban in the country, in place since 2011.

The FDA says phasing trans fats out over the next three years could prevent 7,000 deaths a year and save about $140 billion dollars over the next 20 years in health care and other costs.

CCTV’s Ellen Scott filed this report.

What are trans fats, and why are they bad? An explanation in gifs
Trans-fats are made in a lab, and don’t often occur naturally.

Think of the tub of Crisco in your mom’s kitchen, the margarine in your fridge, the butter on your theatre popcorn. They’re fats, often derived by plants, that started life as a liquid that have been turned solid by chemists adding hydrogen to them.


 

Turning liquid fats into solids preserves their shelf life

(like that Crisco tub that never, ever seems to go bad) and make foods taste better for longer. They can also be used fry food.


 

Trans fats are one of the three types of unsaturated fats:

Monounsaturated (avocados and almonds) and Polyunsaturated (sunflower oil). Saturated fats are usually found in foods that use or have animal fat in them — like cream, cheese, and steak. While some vegetable-based products are high in saturated fat (such as coconut oil), trans fats are made from vegetable fats.


 

Trans fats are bad for your health

because science has shown they’re strongly associated with a high risk for coronary heart disease — the No. 1 cause of death across the globe. Why? Because they’ve been shown to clog arteries, raise “bad” cholesterol LDL and lower “good” HDL cholesterol.


 

Don’t trust the trans fat content on food labels.

In the U.S., foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving are allowed to claim they’re trans fat free. So several servings of a food that has 0.45 grams can quickly add up — yet the eater may think they’ve escaped that fat.


 

The good news is the U.S. is phasing out the use of artificial trans fats

in foods by 2018. And the amount of it used in food in America has declined by more than 85 percent over the last decade. Several countries have already banned it, including Argentina.


Phil Lempert on health trends
For more on growing health trends and their impact on the global restaurant industry, CCTV America’s Michelle Makori spoke to Phil Lempert, author and food marketing expert and also the founder & editor of SupermarketGuru.com.

Phil Lempert on health trends

Phil Lempert on health trends

For more on growing health trends and their impact on the global restaurant industry, CCTV America's Michelle Makori spoke to Phil Lempert, author and food marketing expert and also the founder