The time has finally come. There is no longer a need to fret over whether or not your morning stack of Bisquick pancakes, Pop Secret popcorn, or Chips Ahoy cookies have loads of trans fat: the hydrogenated oils that are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Originally, the FDA proposed a ban on trans fat in consumer products back in November of 2013. Specifically, the FDA targeted partially hydrogenated vegetable oils—an ingredient found in many crackers, baked goods, frozen foods, and even foods you would believe to be decent (Saltines, anyone?). It is now 2015, and consumers are starting to take note of all the foods that still contain trans fat. Most of us experienced a sigh of relief when we first heard about the transition, but the transition seemed to never occur. Rather, food-manufacturing companies lowered the levels of trans fat in their products so that they did not have to report the amount on their nutrition labels. While we consumers thought that we had seen the last of partially hydrogenated oils, food companies profited from tiptoeing around the FDA ban.
Fast forward to June 16th, 2015. NPR reports that the FDA has taken note of the sneaky food companies and decided on a ban of all trans fats on processed foods to be complete by 2018. By setting a specific timeline, the FDA hopes to give manufacturers the time to come up with alternate methods of producing their goods or adequate time to receive approval for their additives. While the FDA is keeping an eye out for the scant amounts of trans fat in your buttered popcorn, it is helpful to read the ingredients list to find out for yourself if certain packaged goods contain the destructive ingredient. While any less than .5g of trans fat does not have to be listed on the nutrition label, look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cottonseed oils, soybean oils, and similar ingredients as an indication of trans fat.
Small amounts can add up. So while the food manufacturing industry works to fix the problem, take matters into your own hands and start reading carefully. With 86% of processed foods already without trans fat, we are well on our way to exterminating the elusive ingredient.
Barclay, E. (2014). When Zero Doesn’t Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger in Foods. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/08/28/343971652/trans-fats-linger-stubbornly-in-the-food-supply
Aubrey, A., & Stein, R. (2015). FDA To Food Companies: This Time, Zero Means Zero Trans Fats. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/16/414906829/fda-to-food-companies-this-time-zero-means-zero-trans-fats