The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fats in processed foods, are not “generally recognised as safe” (GRAS) for food use.
The determination has been arrived at following a review of the scientific evidence and the findings of expert panels. The FDA has now begun a 60-day comment period to collect further data and find out how long food manufacturers will need to reformulate products containing PHOs. If the determination is finalised PHOs will be considered food additives and will not be allowed to be used in foods unless specifically authorised.
Consumption of trans fats is known to raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the blood and increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Many US food manufacturers have already voluntarily reduced levels in their products and the consumption of trans fats by Americans has fallen, but the FDA considers that further reductions “could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year.”
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