The FDA’s latest move on trans fats
I’m still catching up on what happened during the week I was offline in Cuba (more on that later this week).
One big event was the FDA’s announcement that it no longer considers artificial trans fat as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption, meaning that processed food manufacturers need to get rid of it. They get three years to do so.
Here are the relevant documents:
- Federal Register Notice: Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils June 2015
- Federal Register Notice: Tentative Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils; Request for Comments and for Scientific Data and Information; Extension of Comment Period December 2013
- Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat)
- FDA Blog: Protecting Consumers from Trans Fat
- Press Release: The FDA takes step to remove artificial trans fats in processed foods
Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has petitioned the FDA to get rid of trans fats for decades, describes this move as a “huge advance.”
As for complications:
- The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is worried about the half-gram loophole: “FDA memos show…80 percent of these uses [of partially hydrogenated oils containing trans fat] don’t require disclosure of the presence of trans fat because of the half-gram loophole.”
- Politico Pro reports that “food industry lawyers are already scouring the document in hopes of finding some way to shield them from legal action” and that a ban on trans fat will increase demand for palm oil causing widespread deforestation across Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Politico Pro also reports on a lawsuit filed immediately against Heinz for using trans fat in its frozen microwave french fries and tater tots while marketing its products as trans fat free.
I vote for the FDA’s move as a long-awaited step in the right direction. Progress!
Addition, July 5: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has a somewhat different view. Trans fats are already gone, thanks to consumers, and all the FDA has done is to set up a basis for class-action suits.