WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared today that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of trans fat in processed foods, are not "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. The agency is moving to ban the artery-clogging fat in the American diet, a move it said could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year.
Trans fats, found in processed foods like crackers, cookies and pizza, are considered harmful because they increase risks for heart disease by raising bad cholesterol levels and lowering good cholesterol.
FDA's proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period. If it becomes final, partially hydrogenated oils would be considered food additives and could not be used in food unless authorized.
The ruling would not affect naturally occurring trans fat found in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products, FDA said.
"While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern," said FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. "The FDA's action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat."
Click here for the FDA's official announcement.