Deadline extension: FDA accepting comments on use of trans fat

The FDA recently announced its deadline extension on the use of trans fat, allowing consumers an opportunity to speak their behalf about foods in the marketplace containing partially hydrogenated oils.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced November 2013 that it was accepting comments related to trans fat and the determination of its safety in food. Preliminary determination regards partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a major source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in food. Stakeholders and consumers comments were to be gathered and the deadline of Jan. 7, 2014 imposed. The FDA announced it is extending the deadline for comments on the use of trans fat to March 8, 2014. This allows consumers an opportunity to speak on their behalf about foods in the marketplace containing partially hydrogenated oils.

The importance of this review by the FDA rests on fact that consuming trans fat can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising low density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” The Institute of Medicine “has concluded that there is no safe level of consumption of trans fat.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary deaths each year.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than one percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. That is less than two grams of trans fat a day. Estimating the given amount of naturally occurring trans fats the average person probably consumes each day, this leaves no room for industrially manufactured trans fat. Trans fat can be found in many foods – fried foods like French fries and doughnuts, and baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, cookies, crackers, stick margarines and shortenings.

To determine the amount of trans fat in a particular packaged food look at the Nutrition Facts panel. You can also spot trans fat by reading ingredient lists and looking for the ingredients referred to as “partially hydrogenated oils.” To reduce the amount of trans fat in the diet Michigan State University Extension along with the AHA recommends following My Plate and 10 tips to Build A Healthy Meal.

To submit comments to the FDA on the matter of trans fat, please use the method outlined below by the department:

Submit comments electronically to the FDA docket on http://www.regulations.gov, use docket number FDA-2013-N-1317.

To submit comments by mail, send to FDA at:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration

5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

All submissions must include the agency name and docket number.

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