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Monday, November 11, 2013

Trans-Fat: Four Must-Know Details From Recent FDA Determination

On November 7, 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary  determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are no longer classified as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (or GRAS*). Not only did the FDA say the PHOs are not GRAS, they determined that trans fats have "significant adverse health effects." 

Partially hydrogenated oils are the primary source of trans fat in the food supply. Partially hydrogenated oils are formed during food processing when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid. Partially hydrogenated oils are used by food manufacturers to improve the texture, shelf-life and flavor stability of foods.  

The FDA's preliminary determinations is based on scientific evidence that shows consumption of trans fat raises low density lipoprotein --LDL-C or "bad"-- cholesterol, which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Further evidence supports the belief that eliminating trans fat from partially hydrogenated oils could prevent up to 20,000 cases of coronary heart disease and up to 7,000 deaths annually.

Four things to know about Trans Fat

("Quoted" responses provided by the FDA Questions & Answers about Trans Fat)

1. What foods contain trans fat?
"Partially hydrogenated oils, and therefore trans fat, can be found in baked goods such as cakes, cookies and pies; snack foods such as microwave popcorn; frozen pizza; some fast food; margarine and other spreads, coffee creamer; vegetable shortenings and stick margarines; and refrigerator dough products such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls."

2. Does trans fat contribute to obesity?
"Reducing trans fat intake is more about cardiovascular health than obesity. Even individuals who maintain a healthy weight are susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. It is well accepted that trans fat consumption contributes to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Today’s action is an important step toward addressing factors that contribute to everyone’s cardiovascular disease risk."

Kaye's Note: Although trans fat is not implicated in causing obesity, the foods that most likely contain trans fat are not appropriate in the weight loss surgery high protein diet and are unlikely to support or contribute to successful weight management.
3. Do I need to eliminate trans fat from my diet?
"The independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Additionally, the IOM recommends that consumptions of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet. Further, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals keep consumption of trans fat as low as possible."

Kaye's Note: Again, since trans fat is most commonly found in processed foods that do not support our WLS diet we should mindfully reduce or eliminate them from our diet in support of improved health and our weight management goals with bariatric surgery.
4. How do I know if there is trans fat or PHO's in my food?
"Consumers should look at both the trans fat level on the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list. Since 2006, the FDA has required that trans fats be declared on the Nutrition Facts label of foods. Products listed as “0 g trans fat” contain 0 to less than 0.5 g/serving trans fats. This means that foods labeled “0 g trans fat” may still contain some artificial trans fat. The ingredient list will provide information on whether the product contains partially hydrogenated oils."

*FDA Definition: Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)

"GRAS" is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive.

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