Artificial trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening, is created when liquid oils are turned into solid fats by pumping hydrogen though them. These trans fats make food more shelf stable and improve texture. They provide no nutritional value to food, and the evidence is growing that they are harmful to heart health. They clog arteries and contribute to heart disease.

The Food and Drug Administration finds the evidence of the harm that trans fats do so convincing that it’s started the process to eliminate artificial trans fats from American’s diets — possibly preventing 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease every year.

Citing that consumption of trans fat “raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or 'bad' cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease” the FDA has opened a 60-day public comment period. Anyone can submit comments pertaining to artificial trans fats. During the 60 days, the FDA will be collecting additional data and gaining “input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.”

Manufacturers have already been reformulating their foods for some time now, and the amount of trans fats in foods has dropped significantly since the harmful effects were recognized. The FDA points out that some manufacturers still use them in their processed foods.

Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Numerous retailers and manufacturers have already demonstrated that many of these products can be made without trans fat.
What happens if the FDA decides trans fats shouldn’t be in foods? The substance would be labeled as a food additive and forbidden from use in foods without authorization from the FDA. Food manufacturers would be given adequate time to reformulate their products before any new regulations would go into effect.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Artificial trans fats may soon be a thing of the past
The FDA is taking steps to determine if artificial trans fats should be removed from all foods and possibly save 7,000 lives a year.