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An End to Trans Fats

By effectively revoking the "generally recognized as safe" status of partially hydrogenated oils, the FDA has signalled the end to artificial trans fats. Although today's announcement is deemed a preliminary determination, it would be hard for food companies to prove the safety of partially hydrogenated oils. The Institute of Medicine, for example, concluded there is no "safe" level for the intake of trans fats; these fats have been shown to not only raise the level of so-called bad (LDL) cholesterol, but also deplete levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

According to Michael Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group that has long lobbied for the banning of trans fats, "Getting rid of artificial trans fats is one of the most important life-saving measures the FDA could take. Thousands of heart attack deaths will be prevented in the years ahead." While many food companies, including big-name fast-food restaurants, have adopted different oils and fats for their products in recent years, others have not.

Canned frostings, frozen pies and pie crusts, canned cinnamon rolls, cookie dough, buttery popcorn, coffee creamers, and some fast-food meals still contain artificial trans fats. Even a "0g of trans fats" label on a package can be misleading, since zero is classed as 0.5g or less per serving. Those half grams can soon add up.

The food industry, health officials, and the public have 60 days to comment of the FDA's proposal.

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