FDA announces that trans fats not “generally recognized as safe”
From the FDA Commissioner, Margarta A. Hamburg, MD, we heard this week that:
“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern…. The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat. Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health.”
In recent years, some food manufacturers were already decreasing or eliminating trans fat levels in foods, but still trans fats linger in certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Clearly these products could be made without trans fat (as they are in other countries around the world) and of course there are healthier whole food alternatives to these processed foods too!
Also in recent years, with increasing awareness about the dangers of trans fat and better (but far from perfect) labeling laws, consumption of trans fat in America had already significantly diminished. But, many still weren’t aware that labeling laws allowed manufacturers to say “no trans fat” if the trans fat level was below .5 grams per serving. Food manufacturers simply reduced portion size to meet the “under .5 gram” threshold. (Now that explains why portion sizes are so small, yes?) Consumers had to read the actual ingredients on the label – and recognize the trans fat ingredient – to be assured their processed food products did not contain trans fat.
So, why use these hydrogenated trans fats if they are so dangerous and not safe? Well, they are cheap. And shelf stable. A product containing trans fat won’t “go bad” – although it’s hard to really equate the product as “real food” in the first place. The horrifying truth is that these trans fats keep food from spoiling and may faintly resemble food, but the shape and function of the fat molecule is different and our body can’t process or use it like it can real fats. And we NEED real fats. We need real fats for ever single cell membrane in our bodies, for our brains to functions, for our nerves, hormone and energy production. Frankly, the obesity epidemic in this country may be directly linked to the ingestion of toxic hydrogenated fats. When the body can’t process a toxin, like these trans fats, it stores said toxin “safely” away in our fat, away from our vital organs. So, when overloaded with toxins (even toxins from those seemingly benign “food” products) , obesity can be the result.
Our hope here at Cambiati is with this new ruling from the FDA, we can be on the road to eliminating dangerous trans fat from our diets and eliminating another toxin from our plate.
For more information, please see the FDA’s press announcement