The Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to remove artificial trans fats — the artery-clogging ingredient found in crackers, cookies, pizza and many other baked goods, the government agency said Thursday.
Trans fats are considered harmful because they increase risks for heart disease by both raising bad cholesterol levels and lowering good cholesterol. New York City banned trans fats from restaurants in 2007. In 2006, the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to include trans fats on nutritional labels.
“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,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a press release. “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.”
Food manufacturers began adding artificial trans fatty acids, or partially hydrogenated oils, to products decades ago because they were seen as a healthier substitute than saturated fats such butter and were an economical way to maintain food texture and flavor, according to NBC’s diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom.
The FDA has previously estimated that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of trans fats a year. The American Heart Association recommends that people should consume fewer than 2 grams of trans fats a day.
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