Trans-fats are an artificial substance that many manufacturers in the food and restaurant industry use as a means of enhancing flavor. These artificial fats are formed as a result of hydrogenation. This chemical process chemically changes the structure of liquid oils to create a substance that is similar to products like lard or butter.
Companies and stores like trans-fats because they are relatively cheap to make and can last longer on the shelf before going bad. This cuts costs considerably on their end. However, concerns have been growing among health experts that trans-fats might actually be just as bad for the average American consumer’s health than saturated fats. In some ways they might even be worse. They greatly increase cholesterol levels and clog or harden vital arteries causing strokes and heart attacks among other conditions. Public opinions and social policy has been turning against the use of trans-fats for some time now but a new government ban has been issued.
Many believe this effort will remove the unsafe material from the market completely given enough time and manufacturer cooperation. Many food companies have already begun adapting by employing healthier trans-fat substitutes in their products
This ban was instituted by the Food and Drug Association, or FDA, with the help of former Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The result is that trans-fat products will slowly be phased out of the market over the course of three years. The expected result is a significant reduction in the number of heart attacks and coronary diseases suffered every year. The estimated number of prevented health conditions ranges in the thousands.
The new rules would no longer recognize partially hydrogenated oils as a safe substance. This means any manufacturer wishing to include them would need direct permission from the FDA. Until trans-fats are phased out completely consumers need to be aware of exactly what it is that they are in their bodies. Any product that contains between 0- to 0.5 grams of trans-fat or putting partially hydrogenated oils does not necessarily have to be labeled as containing trans-fats. Consumers should investigate their purchases and read the ingredients carefully to maintain good health and safety.