If you think the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) trans fat ban is going to remove this artificial ingredient from the food supply, guess again. The food industry is petitioning the FDA so they can continue using this unhealthy fat. Food manufacturers are asking permission to continue using the primary source of trans fats in many kid-friendly foods, such as breakfast cereals, frozen pizza, granola bars and microwave popcorn. Careful label reading is still your best bet for avoiding trans fats. Look for products made with Malaysian sustainable palm oil. Naturally trans fat-free and rich with antioxidants, palm oil is the healthier alternative.
When the FDA mandated the removal of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and their trans fats from the food supply, it gave manufacturers until June 2018 to rework their formulas. It also allowed manufacturers the opportunity to petition the agency to use PHOs as a food additive for specific uses. In August 2015, the Grocery Manufacturers Association petitioned the FDA to allow continued use of PHOs in nearly 50 product categories. Its request asks to use up three grams of trans fats per 100 grams of shortening, nearly two grams in the same amount of frozen pie crusts and soft fruit snacks, and approximately one gram in frostings and pancake, cookie and brownie mixes. Small amounts of trans fats can add up quickly, especially for children who regularly enjoy granola bars, fruit snacks and frozen pizzas.
Food manufacturers use PHOs to extend product shelf life, and deliver a smooth taste and texture. Many American companies have found that Malaysian sustainable palm oil can also provide these qualities, and without the health risks. Kurt Berger has more than 50 years of experience in the food industry. He’s noticed that people may be unduly suspicious of palm oil at first, but that fades once they understand its versatility and health benefits. Malaysian-sourced palm oil is also non-GMO, and a good choice for those interested in sustainable eating. “Palm oil is now available with independent certification demonstrating that it has been produced in a sustainable manner without damage to the environment,” said Berger.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.