FDA takes steps toward banning trans fats

Posted at 10:08 PM, Nov 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-08 00:08:09-05

It may be adios to doughnuts and pizza as we know them.

The Food and Drug Administration has taken the first step to ban trans fats, or foods with partially hydrogenated oils, meaning some of your favorite foods could soon get a makeover.

Oreos, chips and many frozen dinners have trans fats, which doctors say are bad for your heart but it doesn't faze Salt Lake shopper Joan Gettig who packed her cart at a Dan’s grocery store with desserts loaded with trans fats.

“For some reason, I'm in a sugar mode," Gettig said.

Many cookies have trans fats as well. Manufacturers inject hydrogen into the product to increase its shelf life but doctors say your body pays the price.

"We just don't process them very well," said Dr. C. Rick Henriksen, a University of Utah family doctor.

It raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol and even though fast food chains like McDonald's no longer use trans fats and American consumption has greatly decreased during the last decade, the FDA says trans fats should not be part of the U.S. food supply.

“We've gotten more concerned about health care costs, a number of people with chronic diseases and the role that food can play in health and so the science is now much more clear than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Dan Glickman, former agriculture secretary.

The FDA says ditching trans fats could prevent 20-thousand heart attacks, and 7-thousand deaths each year. Dr. Henriksen applauds the effort.

"I think this is a good thing,” he says. “This is one of those things where nutrition and policy are coming together for benefits for our health."

However, shoppers have mixed opinions.

"In the long run it'll be good," said Kyra Koncar

"I don't feel it's the government's place to tell them they can't eat that,” said shopper Wade Brown. “It's my choice to decide whether I want to eat that."

The issue is not a done deal. The FDA has opened a 60-day comment period. However, if the government does ban trans fats, a phase out could begin in less than a year.