After comprehensive review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized its position in determining that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human food. The FDA is requiring food manufacturers to remove PHOs from products within three years.

PHOs are the primary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods. Since 2006, manufacturers were required to include trans fat content on the Nutrition Facts label of foods; a 78% decrease in trans fat consumption has been estimated between 2003–2012. Although the trans fat intake decreased, the current intake level still remains a public health concern. The FDA then tentatively determined that PHOs could no longer be considered GRAS in 2013.

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Within the three-year compliance period, companies can reformulate their products without PHOs and/or petition for specific uses of PHOs. After the compliance period, no PHOs can be added to human food unless approved by the FDA.

The FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, stated that this change is “expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”

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