Last week, I rattled off a list of food substances that are banned in other countries around the world but are shamefully used by food manufacturers in the United States. Today, I want to take a hard look at one ingredient that looks to be on its way out, and another that should be.
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, more commonly known as trans fats, could be nearing their final days in the American food supply. These man-made substances are used to extend the shelf life of food and make it more flavorful. They also increase the production of bad cholesterol that leads to obesity, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Consumption of trans fats among Americans has dropped significantly in the last 10 years and food manufacturers have voluntarily reduced the use of trans fats. However, the risk is still serious enough for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally step in.
The FDA has ruled trans fats aren’t “generally recognized as safe” – the understatement of the year – and if this preliminary determination is finalized, foods with such unapproved additives would be illegal to sell.