After a period of consideration, the US Food and Drug Administration has come out in opposition to the prevalence of trans fats.
The FDA’s plan is to gradually phase artificial trans fats out of American food products over the next three years.
Many major corporations like Kraft, ConAgra, and Kellogg Co. have taken steps to phase them out of their products as consumers become more aware of the dangers associated with trans fats.
“Thousands Of Lives Will Be Saved”
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said for Bloomberg that
“I don’t know how many lives will be saved, but probably in the thousands per year when all the companies are in compliance.”(1)
The FDA released a statement saying that “(Partially hydrogenated oils), the primary source of trans fat in processed foods, are not ‘Generally Recognized As Safe’, or GRAS.”(2)
Their decision comes on the heels of recent proof that trans fats do cause an increased risk of heart disease,
“so much so that this action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks each year,” the FDA says.
The decision, however, is not without its critics. While some worry about the impact that the American trans fats ban will have on other countries trans fat policies(3), others worry that this decision is sending the wrong message to consumers.
The New York Post, for example, points out that the FDA has been wrong about these things before.
“The problem, of course, is that the expert panels, with all their scientific evidence, have been wrong about the health benefits of various foods in the past and easily can be again in the future,” writes columnist Karol Marcowicz(4).
Marcowicz points out that popular opinion on specific foods – like margarine, wine, and chocolate – has changed significantly in recent years, often based on conflicting scientific evidence.
However, there seems to be no reason to doubt the FDA’s recent decision regarding trans fats. The science behind it is strong – trans fats have been linked conclusively to cardiovascular disease in numerous studies, and the studies are remarkably consistent, from 1993(5) to 2010(6) to 2014(7).
Who Is Affected?
While some companies have been ahead of the curve, other, smaller companies are concerned that the ban on trans fats will affect their business.
“It will certainly cost us some money to reformulate,” said Kenneth Jarosch, head of Jarosch Bakery, in an interview with CTV news(8), adding that, “It will have an effect on the taste and texture and that’s what we’re all about.”
While many argue that it’s worth it because it will prevent heart disease, others are concerned about the environmental impact of the trans fats ban as well. Time Magazine points out that the ban is “likely to lead to deforestation as wooded areas in the tropics are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.”(9)
Still, most health-concerned individuals seem in favor of the ban. The Washington Post notes that while it’s a “good move”, the fight for better diets in America “isn’t over”(10). They call for taxes on added sugars as well, in order to “discourage consumption and encourage food and beverage makers to develop new recipes.”