It Only Took 30 years: FDA Bans Trans-Fats

FDA bans Trans-Fats


Thank you Food and Drug Administration, for finally removing trans-fats from the list of safe ingredients in our food. It only took 30 years, but hey, what’s a decade or two between friends.

The FDA made the announcement yesterday, but there is still some paperwork that needs to be done before these heart-clogging fats will be completely removed from our food supply. The FDA estimates 7000 lives a year can be saved by removing trans-fats from foods and using other oils.

Trans fat is found in shortenings, margarine, snacks such as crackers, candies, and cookies, fried foods, pastries and other foods prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Even cereals like Froot Loops contain trans-fats!

Quick reminder:

Hydrogenation is the process of bombarding an oil’s fat molecules with hydrogen atoms, making it more dense and raising its melting point, so that the oil becomes solid at room temperature.  An unfortunate side effect of this is the creation of trans fatty acids. Partially hydrogenated oil means that the hydrogenation process stopped short of a full solid, reaching a more creamy, semi-soft, butter-like consistency. This is the story of margarine.

As early as the mid 1970′s studies showed how unhealthy trans-fats could be. But junk food companies pressured the government to not do anything about it. In the early 1990′s, when Congress enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the FDA could have required trans-fats to be labeled, but it did not. In 2003, Trans fat labeling on food packages became mandatory, but companies got extensions until finally in 2006 all products were labeled with trans-fats information.

Yet, despite the labeling requirement, consumers are still being duped. If a food serving has less than 0.5 grams of trans-fat, the label may state ZERO. Yes, including 0.49 grams in a serving size that even a 2 year old would find ridiculously small.

Please note that trans-fats are an artificial creation, but there are some trace amounts found naturally in meat and dairy products, called vaccenic acid. These will not be banned.

  • Kristen

    When will it go into effect? I’d love to be able to enjoy an occasional hot cocoa packet again!

  • The Candid RD

    This is simply AMAZING news. Couldn’t be happier. Next, perhaps a requirement to label ADDED sugar amounts?!

  • Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

    As a pediatrician and founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, I am thrilled to see this “Health Tsunami” will soon be receding!

    We have spent a lot of time educating our members about the health concerns associated with trans fats, but this will be the biggest nail in the coffin yet.

    Excellent article, thank you.

    Jennifer A. Gardner, MD, FAAP, Founder, Healthy Kids Company

  • Annette Maggi, MS, RD, LD

    Hemi — Just to clarify, the FDA PROPOSED removing trans fat from the GRAS list. It isn’t a done deal. There’s a 60 day open comment period, and after that’s over, FDA has to review all the comments, and then make a final rule. This is a standard part of the regulatory process and will likely take months to get to a final decision on this. I think it would be helpful to clarify this for your readers.

    • Jess_BartWilliams

      In addition to the fact that the FDA is only opening a 60 day comment period, during this 60 day comment period they are expecting to receive 5-10 papers of scientific research from corporations who will be effected by this change (how long the transition will take, what kind of exemptions should be made – like perhaps restaurants, school lunches, or 0.5g = 0g for example). It is already clear that manufacturers will be able to request exceptions. The FDA could be persuaded to know that no exceptions should be allowed.

      They are expecting 6 (six) comments from the public. They have estimated that receipt of comments from the public will cause absolutely no work load.

      Fooducate, please look in your message box on FB. I sent you instructions and a sample letter for you and your followers to send to

  • raimunda

    I cant wait for the FDA to ban MSG too!!! Im happy they have banned Trans fats :)

  • Michael Connell

    They Have not banned it yet. What about coconuts? They have some of the most trans fat of anything “natural”.

    • Ciaran

      Sources to back up your claim?

      yeah, i didn’t think so.

  • StopLegislating

    Companies have already been drastically reducing their use of trans fats since the 90s. The public pressure has had a tremendous affect. People don’t want to see trans fats on their labels, so companies have been using different kinds of oils. According to the Grocery Manufacturing Assoc., companies have reduced their use of trans fats by 73% in less than ten years. McDonald’s doesn’t use it. Most margarine makers stopped using it already. My point being, your education efforts have worked! They continue to work! Keep at it. You’re doing fabulous! But, can we please stop making more and more laws? Our government is so overburdened by trying to enforce and administer the billions of laws on the books already. So, while I’m thrilled to see companies are already moving in the right direction thanks to the demands of the public, let’s be careful about over-legislating.

    You know sugar is next — just look to Mexico and NYC. Too much of anything is bad. Will they legislate how much honey you can put in your tea?