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US FDA Moves To Ban Trans Fat 520

Posted by timothy
from the for-your-own-good-ad-infinitum dept.
UnknowingFool writes "Citing growing health concerns about trans fat, the FDA today proposed measures to eliminate it from the U.S. food supply. While trans fat can still be used, the new measures now place the burden on food processors to justify the inclusion of it in a food product as experts have maintained that there is no safe level of consumption and no health benefits. Since 2006, the amount of trans fat eaten by the average American has declined from 4.5g per serving to less than 1g as restaurants and the food industry have reduced their use of it. There will be a 60-day public comment period for the new proposal."
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US FDA Moves To Ban Trans Fat

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  • by intermodal (534361) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:30PM (#45359913) Homepage Journal

    TFA is more specific than the brief above describes.

    • Vegans need it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:43PM (#45360067)

      Vegans have diets that are so low in the LDL (bad) cholesterol that they can be too low. It turns out that you need some LDL cholesterol, or you bleed to death. It is only "bad" when you have too much of it.

      Humans can produce their own LDL, but for some people that is not enough and they need dietary LDL. Partially-hydrogenated oils provide that need without requiring a vegan to eat any animal products.

      Vegetarians who eat milk, eggs, or fish don't have this problem. But vegans do.

      Of course, it is also true that a lot MORE people are dying of heart disease because of too much LDL than are dying of anything because of too little, so I think this battle is up a very steep hill.

      • Re:Vegans need it (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:22PM (#45360691)

        Partially-hydrogenated oils provide that need

        PHVO is NOT cholesterol, and contains no cholesterol. It may cause your body to retain cholesterol, but if your body is unable to make cholesterol, then there is nothing to retain. I am very skeptical of your claim that anybody, including vegans, needs trans-fat. Can you provide a reference to a source? If I google for "vegan" plus "cholesterol", all I see are articles saying that vegans can still have high cholesterol despite their diet.

        Even if there are a few rare people that are both vegans and unable to make enough of their own cholesterol, that is hardly a justification to allow this synthetically produced artery-clogging gunk into our normal food supply.

      • by bfandreas (603438)
        While I too am not a fan of government bans I have to say that relying on consumer choice for them to get something as basic nutrition right is beyond naive. While vegans truly must come from another star system the mainstream is not any better.

        To my European taste the US food is not edible. Everything is far, far too sweet. Setting aside the madness that is HFCS most of the processed foods are frankly disgusting. Why there needs to be so much sweetener in bread, ketchup, peanutbutter, stuff that doesn't
  • by stewsters (1406737) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:30PM (#45359917)
    Since 2006, the amount of trans far eaten by the average American has declined from 4.5g per serving to less than 1g
    Are we thinner yet?
    • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Informative)

      by iONiUM (530420) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:33PM (#45359941) Homepage Journal

      That's not the point of removing trans fats. Rather (from the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]) "In humans, consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease[2][3] by raising levels of the protein LDL (so-called "bad cholesterol") and lowering levels of the protein HDL ("good cholesterol")."

      Should we not ban something that is directly linked to an increased risk in heart disease? I suppose smoking is also directly linked, but not banned, so I leave that debate up to everyone who isn't me.

      • Debate over (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#45360005)

        Smoking = tax money
        Trans fats = no tax money

        Debate over.

        • Re:Debate over (Score:5, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:11PM (#45360511)

          Smoking = conscious choice
          trans fats = hidden in all kinds of stuff, even products that claim 0 trans fat* then in very small text "per serving". Restaurant food is even worse in that you never know if it contains it or not.

          • But think of all the children! Where will they get their Oreos now???
          • by aevan (903814)
            So make honest labels, like they did for cigarettes. Put congested heart pictures on those porkrinds. Then it can be a conscious choice.
            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              Porkrinds can and often are made without trans fat.

              If you want to do it at home you can start the pork skin and fat cooking in water and as the water evaporates it will be replaced with rendered fat, then that will fry the skin.

          • by Golddess (1361003)
            You could always try asking the waiter/waitress if you are concerned about what is in your food.

            But I agree that the whole "not really zero, it's just low enough that we're allowed to call it zero" thing is bullshit.
            • Re:Debate over (Score:4, Insightful)

              by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:33PM (#45360883)

              She would not know, she did not make it.

              I am not a vegetarian, but I have days where I do not eat meat. I have ordered items that I was assured were vegetarian and turned out not to be. If the waitress did not notice the ground beef in the 3 bean soup what are the odds she knows if trans fat is in the fries?

      • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:41PM (#45360039) Homepage Journal

        Should we not ban something that is directly linked to an increased risk in heart disease?

        In a supposedly free country? No, of course we shouldn't ban it.

        Mandate that any product containing trans fat be labeled as such, and with appropriate health warnings (like they do on tobacco products), but outright bans of things we can only use to harm ourselves is anathema to liberty.

        • And is there any benefit to using trans fats other than that they are cheaper than alternatives?

          • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:50PM (#45360163)

            The original theory, as promoted by the same health nuts that are trying to get it banned now, is that because your body can't digest it, it was better than consuming actual fat. It came out of the "fat = bad, carbs = good" mentality from the 70's, 80's, and 90's. That mantra was repeated so much that today it's heresy to even suggest that fat is actually good for you, even though carbs, and the associated insulin response, have been linked with increased risk of heart disease.

          • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jythie (914043) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:52PM (#45360203)
            They have a somewhat longer shelf life, but other then that, no, they are simply cheap to manufacture with.

            On the more general topic of 'but we are a free country', while the future is difficult to predict, a trans fat ban could very well result in greater consumer choice rather then less. Right now there is an industry race to the bottom, everyone uses trans fats because any company that does not will have marginally higher prices which would hurt the company. As long as ANY company is using them, they all have to in order to be competitive. Consumers do not want the stuff, they just want a slightly lower cost the the box sitting next to whatever it is.

            Part of the problem is that right now consumer demand is not the dominant factor in choosing which fat source to use. By removing one option that puts the power back on consumers to demand any particular source they want, or no particular source. For the moment, we have surprisingly little choice. And half the equation in freedom is having choices in the first place.
        • by iONiUM (530420)

          While I agree with liberty first and foremost, transfats are an artificial creation used to save money regardless of health risks. No consumer, if properly educated, would ever choose to eat transfats because they "taste better", or something like this. They don't. There's no advantage, to the consumer to eat them.

          So, attempting to bring in liberty to this argument I think is an overreaction, which is why I didn't really want to relate smoking to it (as smoking does "have" a reason why people do it: they en

          • While I agree with liberty first and foremost, transfats are an artificial creation used to save money regardless of health risks. No consumer, if properly educated, would ever choose to eat transfats because they "taste better", or something like this. They don't. There's no advantage, to the consumer to eat them.

            Precisely why I favor accurate labeling over an outright ban - if food products had proper labeling, consumers would know what's in the package, and most of us would voluntarily elect to not fill our bodies with man-made poisons.

        • by sehryan (412731)

          So then I would take it that you are in favor of making marijuana (and other drugs) legal?

          • So then I would take it that you are in favor of making marijuana (and other drugs) legal?

            Marijuana, which is no more a drug than anything in my spice rack, yes.

            Actual drugs, aka meth, coke, pharmaceuticals... yes, but in a highly regulated environment.

            • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Atzanteol (99067) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @05:27PM (#45360767) Homepage

              So then I would take it that you are in favor of making marijuana (and other drugs) legal?

              Marijuana, which is no more a drug than anything in my spice rack, yes.

              Actual drugs, aka meth, coke, pharmaceuticals... yes, but in a highly regulated environment.

              Why not "just label them?" If it's good enough for trans fats why not others? FREEDOM and all...

        • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by niado (1650369) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @06:11PM (#45361443)

          In a supposedly free country? No, of course we shouldn't ban it.

          Mandate that any product containing trans fat be labeled as such, and with appropriate health warnings (like they do on tobacco products), but outright bans of things we can only use to harm ourselves is anathema to liberty.

          Why do people flip out about these basic tenets of modern civilization? Sorry, most people don't want poison to be sold as food. Go ahead and sell transfats all you want, but don't tell people it's food when it is most certainly not food.

          At this point, transfats seem to be harmful food adulterants. [wikipedia.org] Food companies are already banned from putting terrible shit into our food. If you're calling it food, it better be composed primarily of food, not poison. This is not some huge encroachment on the liberty of Americans.

          How about we go ahead and ban the transfats (like other things that seem like they might be poison) from the general food supply so nobody accidentally eats it, and then everyone who wants to eat the stuff can get some and put it into their food themselves. I feel this latter group would be a significant minority of the population.

          Similar to rat poison, which food producers are not allowed to include in food, but you can buy from the store yourself and put into your own food if you like. This is comparable to the current situation with tobacco products.

      • Re:Is it working? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:47PM (#45360117) Journal

        The Wiki article and TFA are wrong.

        LDL is not the 'cause' of heart disease. It never was. Damage to cells is the cause. Trans fats damage cell which mistake them for saturated fats. Oxidative stress is another mechanism.

        LDL raises because it is being generated to transport materials to the sites of damage for repair. Persistent raised LDL is a sign of persistent damage, from things like oxidation, glycation and excess exposure to Miley Cyrus. LDL raising is a response to cellular damage, not a cause. This is why LDL suppressing statins have failed spectacularly to improve human health even while it reduces LDL.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        The EPA already tried to ban smoking.

        I think the tobacco lobby is too strong.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          In the case of smoking people were wise enough to understand what prohibition would get them. I guess since drugs and tobacco often come together, it was easy to make the connections between the 30's prohibition of alcohol (increased crime, dangerous black market) and a proposed tobacco prohibition today. If only people would make that connection to the "war on drugs" we could make social progress...

      • by jythie (914043)
        One rather specific reason the two are different is industry has any number of drop-in replacements for trans fat, while smoking is a rather unique experience. Artificial trans fats are really more of a manufacturing process then anything else, a way to produce cheap fats for adding to processed foods. They could just as easily add other fat sources and produce something nearly identical in terms of taste and texture but at a marginally higher cost.
        • by slew (2918)

          Substitutions for trans-fat in the commercial food industry isn't really a cost of materials issue. The change in the cost of materials is likely to be marginal. The primarly reason trans-fat is used is to increase shelf-life of products (polyunsaturated oils in food go rancid really quick) which means most change-outs will affect the distribution chain and the cost of distribution.

          Say if a snack product is delivered weekly to market now, it might have to be delivered twice a week in smaller batches. Pack

      • by sjames (1099)

        Unlike trans fat, makers of processed food and restaurants never sneak cigarettes into the food.

      • Should we not ban something that is directly linked to an increased risk in heart disease?
         
        No. We should educate people to look at the damn label and decide for themselves. Most of the food industry have already reduced or completely eliminated trans fats purely voluntarily as a result of consumers being more educated and the pressure from consumer groups. If the government needs to pass laws to protect people from themselves then who are they representing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Trans fat is about heart disease.

      If you want to attack obesity aim for sugar. If you want to loose weight just take whatever sugar intake you are doing and cut it to 1/3rd.

      This does affect some of the snack foods we eat today. Including movie theater popcorn, and microwave popcorn. Because of the high shelf life. Many have already moved away from trans fat with the last size reduction.

      The real affect will be food with a shorter shelf life and per dollar higher cost.

      • If you really want to lose weight, take your sugar and starch consumption and cut it to zero.
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:34PM (#45359949) Journal

    Trans fats appear naturally in small amounts in things like cream.

    Cream, being mostly saturated, zero carb and choc full of fat soluble vitamins is a very healthy food.

    There is plenty of reasonable hypothesis that the small amount of trans fats in milkfat has a hormetic effect. It is the bulk trans fats in engineered foods that is toxic.

    • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#45359999)
      You could at least read the first line of the FA.
    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#45360003)

      "The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed measures that would all but eliminate artificial trans fats, the artery clogging substance that is a major contributor to heart disease in the United States, from the food supply."

      Keyword: artificial. But because that wasn't enough, the article goes on to say:

      "Some trans fats occur naturally. The F.D.A. proposal only applies to those that are added to foods."

    • Not an issue. According to TFA, "[The] proposed measures that would all but eliminate artificial trans fats."

      Emphasis added.

    • by sjames (1099)

      What is actually being banned is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, the source of artificial trans fats.

      For that matter, it's not an outright ban (though it likely amounts to one), just stripping it of it's status of Generally Recognized As Safe (since it is nothing of the sort).

  • by sputnikid (191152) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:36PM (#45359971)

    Why not targeting high fructose corn syrup instead?

    It is far more harmful and sugar is a better (albeit pricier) replacement.

    • by EmperorArthur (1113223) on Thursday November 07, 2013 @04:43PM (#45360061)

      Why not targeting high fructose corn syrup instead?

      It is far more harmful and sugar is a better (albeit pricier) replacement.

      The reason is right in the name. Corn is a major part of the US agriculture industry. Do you know how much lobbying power they have?

    • Why not targeting high fructose corn syrup instead?

      It is far more harmful and sugar is a better (albeit pricier) replacement.

      Lobbyists, probably.

    • Judging by the majority of "durr, what business does the gubment have..." responses to this FA, I'm surprised they're not demanding cyclamate [wikipedia.org] back.
    • Every anti-HFCS study I've ever seen just concludes that too much of it is bad, but it's generally no worse than too much sugar. The only difference is HFCS is used more, so it's more likely to be the cause of obesity or other sugar-related maladies.

      Bad car analogy: Toyotas cause more crashes than Bugattis. It doesn't necessarily mean that Bugattis are safer, it just means there's more Toyotas to cause crashes. (It actually means zilch in the argument over which is safer).

    • If this seems to work after a few years, they may try. The corn farmers are protected by Agricultural Lobbies, I am guessing that they want to get people used to targeted ingredients removal before messing with the big kids.

      Corn syrup is in a lot of foods, I can see the news stories now of whoever proposes the law is trying to take away all your favorite foods. You are not allowed to eat what you want, etc. I think eventually it will happen, but you will see more resistance than to the trans-fat.
    • by jythie (914043)
      Sadly, because the corn lobby is probably on par with defense contractors in terms of lobbying power.
    • Sugar used to be cheap. It hasn't been for quite some time. Why?

      Because we insist on holding a grudge against the Cuban people.
  • You mean I'll not be able to buy any more beef tallow pudding? I eat that stuff by the spoonful!

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      beef tallow is half unsaturated fat, half saturarated, but with no trans fat whatsoever.

      http://calorielab.com/foods/animal-fats/fat-beef-tallow/47/04001/2 [calorielab.com]

    • by jandrese (485)
      Ironically, Transfats were originally developed as a healthier alternative to saturated fats like Butter, Lard, Tallow, etc...
      • Yes, but what we've learned since then is that butter is actually better for you than margarine is...

        Butter is a real food, margarine is just a manufactured food.

        Frankly, most of the frankenfoods that the food industry makes today are crap, go back to eating real food and get healthy.

        The only issue with butter is the amount you eat. Just keep it within a reasonable level and it is fine. Reminds me of when eggs were "evil" about 20 years ago, and egg whites became all the rage.

        My wife eats 3 eggs a

  • So either make a requirement that all food additives follow guidelines to provide "safe levels of consumption and health benefits" or let consumers and corporations work it out on their own. Targeting individual food products is as productive as targeting individual financial products or individual companies in regulation. It just creates more work ... oh; nevermind, figured that out.

  • With the trend toward government medicine, politicians now have a whole new reason to push their tastes on us for our health. This trend will only continue, under the usual reasons:

    • For the children, of whom 30% are obese in the US.
    • For your health, because we're paying for it!
    • For the environment, lighter people cost less to mass transit.

    I'd rather see limits on sodium, since it's overloaded into everything from dough to freezer meals. Try cutting back on it, and you'll suddenly see it everywhere.

    • Damn right! Their overreach of powers can try and pry the trans fat from my cold, dead arteries!!!


      Seriously.... Dept. of Health & Human Services: please try, I am mere seconds from a heart attack.

I wish you humans would leave me alone.

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