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National Restaurant Association - FDA plans to phase out artificial trans fat, seeks comments

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FDA plans to phase out artificial trans fat, seeks comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to prohibit partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—the main source of artificial trans fat in food—in processed foods.  

The FDA has tentatively determined that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” and will no longer be classified as such by the agency, according to a Federal Register notice published Nov. 8. The agency’s decision was based on a review of studies that suggested a link between consumption of trans fats and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Artificial trans fat generally is used to extend shelf life and improve food texture and taste of certain products, such as pastries and other baked goods. It is also found in common restaurant items like french fries, tortilla chips and yeast breads.

The ban would not affect naturally occurring trans fat, such as those found in meat and dairy products, the FDA’s notice said.

In a statement, the National Restaurant Association noted that many restaurants already are taking steps to reduce or eliminate artificial trans fats from the food they serve.

“The restaurant industry is committed to taking a proactive role in addressing today’s healthy living challenges, as evidenced by the tremendous strides the industry has voluntarily taken to reduce or eliminate trans fat from menu items,” said Joan McGlockton, NRA vice president of industry affairs and food policy. “We plan to discuss the impact of this proposal on the industry and submit comments, and we will continue to work with our members and the manufacturing supply chain to address any new federal standards that may arise out of this process.”

Comments on the FDA’s plan to phase out artificial trans fat will be accepted until January 7, 2014. The NRA, as it prepares to submit comments, is interested in hearing how the FDA’s plans will affect its members.  Contact Joan McGlockton, jmcglockton@restaurant.org, to share information on how the trans fat phase-out will affect your company.

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