Today is just one of those days. It’s raining and you forgot an umbrella so now you’re soaked, your coffee spills on your way to work/school, and your computer crashes and you lose the document you had been working on for weeks. Today is just not your day as anything that could have gone wrong, did. With all that frustration billowing up inside, the last thing you wanted to do is more work once you got home. Therefore, you end up gravitating to fast and easy comfort food. Pass over the french fries, apple pie, cake and ice cream, and even the donuts.
Even though those foods may be comfort foods those foods are getting a face lift. At the beginning of November, 2013 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a preliminary decision that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), what many know as trans fat, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. Meaning, foods that contain any partially hydrogenated oils can no longer be used in our food. Efforts have already been made to do away with trans fat in food but sometimes there are hidden trans fat in our food even when the nutrition facts panel says otherwise.
So, what is a trans fat, and why is it so dangerous that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration want to remove it from the food supply?
Trans fat are made by adding hydrogen to liquid oil, which turns it into a solid fat. Thereby, this fat makes it easier for food processed manufacturers to add to their products as it improves the texture, stability and shelf life.
When it comes to your health, trans fats are not something you want to consume. Trans fat increases blood levels of the “bad” cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL), which increases one’s risk of heart disease, including angina and heart attacks. It is also believed that trans fat reduce blood levels of the “good” cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), which helps to reduce heart risks by funneling blood cholesterol to the liver.
In 2003, Denmark became the first country to ban artificial trans fat. In 2006, New York City became the first city to prohibit the use of artificial trans fat in restaurants and bakeries. In 2008, California passed a law to phase out their use in restaurants.
Since certain states and countries have already put to stand to getting away with trans fat what is the big deal about today’s regulations?
By removing partially hydrogenated oils from the list of ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) it would prevent food makers from using it in their products. It has also been hypothesized through vigorous research that by banning trans fat it may actually benefit our health. Researchers from the Center of Disease and Control (CDC) examined concentrations of trans fatty acids in blood samples. They found that between 2000-2009, levels of four types of trans fatty acids feel by an average of 58 percent.
How does banning trans fat happen?
First off, the ban of trans fat is a proposal. If members of the public want to comment regarding the proposed ban of trans fat they have 60 days to do so. If agreement holds that trans fat should be taken out of the food system, it would mark the first time since 1969 where an item has been removed from the GRAS list.
Therefore, if you have a strong feeling regarding your food, where it comes from, its safety, and whats in it, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. To do so, make sure to research reputable journal articles to understand each side of the arguments related to food. Food and nutrition are controversial topics and understanding where your food comes is important. With this in mind, I challenge you to not only read the nutrition facts panel on some of your favorite comfort foods but to also read the ingredient list and research the product on your own to understand what all those ingredients actually are!
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Supports FDA’s Move to Reduce Trans Fats in Processed Foods (Academy President Glenna McCollum quoted)
A brief history of artificial trans fats
FDA: These are foods that might have trans fats in them
Q&A: What are trans fats anyway, and why are they so bad?
FDA’s trans fat decision: An opening for regulating salt, sugar?
Lawyer, Expect calls for extension of comment period on FDA crackdown on trans fats