The FDA has decided that trans fats are so bad for us that they have issued a ban on them. The cost of this ban could range from $2.8 billion to $11 billion over the next three years. That sounds like a lot of money that they had also estimated savings ranging from $11 billion – $430 billion over the next three years.
Most of the savings come in benefits to our health. According to the FDA the ban could prevent up to 23,350 coronary heart disease deaths each year. Of course there are intangible benefits such as not having our family and friends die.
The FDA news release says:
“Based on the available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) 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 (IP-TFA) are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in human food. This action responds, in part, to citizen petitions we received, and we base our determination on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels establishing the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat.”
The investigation was comprehensive. The FDA says they 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.”
Some pundits say that the reduction of deaths from trans fats is questionable because manufacturers have already decreased the amount of trans fats in foods due to labeling requirements. Trans fat consumption also declined through personal choice, by around 78 percent between 2003 and 2012, according to CNN.
The history of trans fats dates back to around 1911. At that time it was in shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil used for cooking and making pies. These days, products likely to contain trans fats are much more varied, and include frozen pizza, doughnuts, canned frosting, margarine, and some buttered popcorn. There are many more.
The FDA says that companies can petition them for a special permit if they want to use PHOs. The law will say PHOs can’t be used without FDA approval.
What is unknown so far is how Congress will react to the powerful food lobby.