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Roundup: Groups React to the FDA’s Trans Fats Decision

Both medical groups and food-industry groups reacted positively to the decision by the Food and Drug Administration to effectively ban trans fats from foods. Food manufacturers emphasized that the move comes after years of voluntary efforts.

Both medical organizations and food-industry groups reacted positively to the decision by the Food and Drug Administration to ban trans fats from foods. Food manufacturers emphasized that the move comes after years of voluntary efforts to trim the fat.

Partially hydrogenated oils, better known to the public as trans fats, are about to lose their home in the grocery store and at the fast-food counter.

The FDA announced on Thursday a proposal to phase out the use of these additives in foods because they pose a public health risk. The decision follows a requirement issued by the agency in 2006 that food labels include the food’s trans fat content.

“While consumption of potentially harmful trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” noted FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.

The agency said it had “tentatively determined” that trans fats should not be included in the unregulated category of food ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe.” If the proposal is finalized, any use of trans fats in food products would have to be pre-approved by the FDA, the Washington Post reported.

Among notable industry reactions:

Medical groups: Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) praised the decision, with the former noting that the decision to move to healthier fats “could prevent 30,000 to 100,000 premature deaths each year.” The AHA emphasized its ongoing advocacy efforts “for eliminating trans fat from the nation’s food supply.” AMA board member Patrice A. Harris, MD, said in a statement that “eating foods containing trans fat significantly increases the risk for heart disease by raising levels of bad cholesterol, while lowering levels of good cholesterol.”

Food industry organizations: Meanwhile, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and National Restaurant Association (NRA) each emphasized their industries’ voluntary efforts to cut back on trans fats, which are often created artificially. GMA noted that grocery manufacturers had cut back on artificial trans fats by 73 percent since 2005. Meanwhile, NRA said it would work with members to deal with any effects of the rule changes. “We plan to discuss the impact of this proposal on the industry and submit comments, and we will continue to work with our members and the manufacturing supply chain to address any new federal standards that may arise out of this process,” said Joan McGlockton, the group’s vice president of industry affairs and food policy.

Quartz notes that many food manufacturers have already significantly reduced trans fats in their products, making a rule change easier to adjust to now than it might have been a decade ago.

The FDA is accepting comments on the proposal until January 7, 2014.

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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