Trans fats are classified as naturally occurring or artificial. Naturally occurring trans fats are made in the stomach of some animals and found in some foods that we eat. Examples of these foods are milk and meat products. Artificial trans fats also known as trans-unsaturated fatty acids are created in manufacturing plants. These trans fats are primarily found in processed foods labeled as partially hydrogenated oils. The process adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. This process is used to increase the shelf life of certain foods. However, trans fats affect your health because they raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower your good cholesterol levels. This creates an increased plague build up in your arteries. High amounts of plaque in your arteries can clog them increasing your risk for developing heart disease, a stroke, and diabetes.
Over the past 10 years, Food and Drug Administration has required manufacturers to disclose the amount of partially hydrogenated oils on the food and nutrition label. As a result, manufactures began voluntarily decreasing the amount of partially hydrogenated oils added to processed foods. Today, FDA has made a stance to remove artificial trans fats from the food supply, with help of those like former Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. Partially hydrogenated oils have been declared as unsafe. After June 18, 2018, they will no longer be added to food unless approved by FDA. They have established a three-year compliance period to allow companies to reformulate their products. Companies will have the option to complete a food additive petition. The petition must present solid evidence to FDA that meets the standards for safe use of partially hydrogenated oils. FDA is tasked with reviewing the evidence and determining whether to approve its use.
Most food manufacturing companies have phased out trans fats, but some partially hydrogenated oils can still remain. Consumers still need to read the nutrition label and check for partially hydrogenated oils. Nutrition and diet play a key role in preventing heart disease and premature death. FDA is committed to the health and well-being of all consumers. This stance will aid in assuring heart health for consumers and increasing the quality of life.