SAN FRANCISCO (press release)—It was reported recently that President Barack Obama’s Food and Drug Administration has issued a ban on trans fats that could cost as much as $11 billion. In a news release from the FDA, it states that the agency “has made a final determination that there is no longer a consensus among qualified experts that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially produced trans fatty acids. They are generally recognized as safe for any use in human food.” A rather direct assumption.
The FDA examined “the costs of all significant effects of the removal, including packaged food reformulation and relabeling, increased costs for substitute ingredients, and consumer, restaurant, and bakery recipe changes.” And because of those factors, the FDA has estimated the cost of implementing the ban over the next three years at an incredible price tag of $6 billion. That figure could go as high as $11 billion most experts agree.
Actually banning trans fats, it is predicted, could prevent up to 23,350 coronary heart disease deaths annually. That could save as much as $440 billion a year. However that estimate alone is regarded as questionable given that manufacturers already have largely decreased the amount of trans fats in foods due to labeling requirements. Also, trans fat consumption has declined by personal choices by about 78 percent between 2003 and 2012, CNN reported.
The history of trans fats dates back to around 1911. At that time it was in the process of shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil used for cooking and making pies. Today, products likely to contain trans fats today include frozen pizza, doughnuts, canned frosting, margarine, and some buttered popcorn. That is only mentioning a few items.
The idea is that companies can petition the FDA for a special permit to use PHOs. But the law would state they can’t be used without FDA approval. It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts to the powerful food lobby over this idea.