The FDA has just announced a proposal to withdraw GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status for trans-fat.
My first reaction: Isn’t trans-fat already out of the food supply? Hasn’t this been one of the food industry’s greatest public health achievements?
Once the FDA started to require trans-fat to be listed on food labels, food companies quickly stopped using partially hydrogenated oils (the source of trans-fat) and found healthier substitutes. That’s why most food labels list zero grams trans-fat.
But the FDA allows food labels to say zero trans-fat if its amount is below 0.5 gram per serving.
Some manufacturers are still using a little. This new initiative will encourage them to get rid of those last little bits.
Contrary to the New York Times headline, this is not exactly a ban on trans-fat. If trans-fat is no longer GRAS, manufacturers can still file a food additive petition to continue using partially hydrogenated oils.
The Federal Register notice asks for input for the next 60 days.
I say congratulations to all:
- To food companies who worked hard to find ways to substitute healthier fats for trans-fats.
- To the FDA for finally taking care of the trans-fat 0.5-gram loophole.
- To Center for Science in the Public Interest for bringing health problems with trans-fat to public attention.
- To all of the researchers who did the science linking trans-fat to higher LDL-cholesterol levels and to heart disease risk.
- To the New York City health department for banning trans-fats from use in city restaurants.
Americans will be healthier as a result of all of your efforts.
At the moment, the FDA has not yet posted its Federal Register notice on the GRAS status of trans-fat. When it does, the notice should be available here.
CSPI’s home page on trans fat
The FDA trans-fat home page
FDA consumer materials
FDA guidance for industry