The FDA today proposed guidelines to eliminate the use of transfats in the U.S. food supply.
According to the New York Times, the agency hopes to declare that transfats are no longer "generally recognized as safe." The proposal has to endure 60 days of public comments before moving forward.
Under the proposal, companies would have to scientifically prove that partially hydrogenated oils are safe to eat, even though the Institute of Medicine has reported there is no safe level for consumption.
The FDA said there are still "many processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oils," which is the major source of transfat. The agency adds that transfat has been linked to the increased risk in heart disease.
Its statement reads: "Part of the FDA's responsibility to the public is to ensure that food in the American food supply is safe. Therefore, due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs, FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer 'generally recognized as safe.' If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.
"The FDA is soliciting comments on how such an action would impact small businesses and how to ensure an efficient transition if a final determination is issued."
ABC News listed some of the foods that would be banned if this proposal were to ultimately pass. They include some QSR options such as crispy chicken and seafood dishes. Also, "crunchy breakfast items that rely on hydrogenated fats for texture can have upward of 10 grams of transfat per serving," the article said.
Most major QSR brands dropped or reduced their use of transfats from 2006-2008, including Arby's, Wendy's and Chick-fil-A. Still, the ingredient lingers throughout the market. Long John Silver's, for example, came under fire this summer for using transfats in its Big Catch meal.
According to market information company The NPD Group, 78 percent of U.S. consumers are now "very cautious" about serving foods with transfats. The company has been asking consumers about this topic every year since 2004, when the percentage of those concerned was 72 percent. The apprehension peaked in 2009 and 2010 at 81 percent.
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Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.