Say goodbye to trans fats. After determining that trans fats did not meet their criteria to be “generally recognized as safe” for human consumption in 2013, the FDA has now announced that all artificial trans fats must be removed from food products within the next three years. Trans fats are produced industrially from vegetable fats and are used to give flavor, texture, and an extended shelf life to foods. They are thought to contribute to “bad” LDL cholesterol, an increased risk of heart disease, and other related diseases. The announcement follows over a decade of FDA scrutiny of trans fats as well as the FDA’s introduction of food labeling regulations in 2006 that required companies to list trans fats on their products’ Nutrition Facts label.
Despite the trend towards the elimination of trans fats (consumption decreased by 78% between 2003 and 2012), a recent report showed that as many as 37% of grocery store products may still contain trans fat. In light of this fact, here’s what you need to know while you wait for the new ban to take effect:
Trans fats are often found in processed foods like crackers, cookies, refrigerated biscuits and doughs, and coffee creamers.
Products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can still be labeled “0 grams trans fat.” If a product has partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredients, it will contain small amounts of trans fats.
The ban will not completely remove trans fats from grocery store shelves. Products that contain naturally occurring trans fats, like some meat and dairy, and oils that contain trans fats produced during manufacturing, will not be subject to the new regulations.