The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “finalised its determination” that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fats in processed food, are no longer ‘generally recognised as safe’ (GRAS) for use in human food.
The step follows a 2013 proposal and a period of public consultation and is based on a review of research findings on the health effects of PHOs in the diet and input from stakeholders. Food manufacturers will now have three years to remove PHOs from their products.
Eliminating PHOs from processed foods is expected to make a major contribution to reducing dietary intake of artificial trans fats in the American population. Artificial trans fats have been linked with coronary heart disease and FDA Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff M.D. commented, “This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
The trans fat content of foods has had to be declared on labels since 2006 and this is reported to have led to a significant reduction in intake. Manufacturers will now have to reformulate products without PHOs or petition the FDA to allow their specific use. It is expected that many will stop using them ahead of the three-year deadline.
More information about the FDA action on PHOs can be found here.