If the trans fat ban currently proposed by the Food and Drug Administration becomes reality, some of our most popular foods could see drastic changes.
The FDA is currently trying to remove trans fat’s classification as “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. Only ingredients with GRAS classification are allowed to be included in foods, according to an FDA spokesperson. In less than 60 days, it’s possible that the FDA will come to a final decision depending on information regarding how long it could take to phase trans fats out of the food market.
Before we talk about some foods that will change in the aftermath of the trans fat ban, let’s go over some of the most common questions asked about trans fat:
Trans Fat FAQ
- What is trans fat? – Trans fat is vegetable oil that has been hydrogenated – in other words, hydrogen has been added to it in order to make the oil more solid.
- Why is trans fat used? – Food manufacturers have been adding trans fat to processed food for the last six decades in order to prevent it from spoiling and to keep its flavor consistent over its shelf life.
- How can I identify foods that contain trans fat? – Foods that contain more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving are required to list trans fat content on the label. However, some foods contain smaller amounts of trans fat that can accumulate over time. Foods that contain trans fat will have the words “partially hydrogenated oil” on their ingredients lists.
- How much trans fat is safe to consume? – Trans fat has become increasingly easier to avoid since 2006, when food companies were first required to list it on nutrition labels. Over the last ten years, average daily trans fat consumption has dropped from 4.6 grams to 1 gram. Ideally, people should consume no trans fat at all.
5 Foods That Will Change After the Trans Fat Ban
- Microwave popcorn would become much healthier after a ban on trans fat, as current options typically have approximately 4 grams of trans fat in each serving. Check labels carefully; some brands have no trans fat at all, while many others contain up to 5 grams of trans fat in each serving.
- Boxed cookies would also lose significant amounts of tran fat, as these currently contain as much as 3.5 grams of trans fat per serving. However, many cookie manufacturers have already eliminated trans fat from their products. Those that haven’t use trans fat in order to make their cookies crispier throughout storage.
- Refrigerated cookie dough, much like already-baked boxed cookies, currently contain up to 3 grams of trans fat per serving. The same goes for biscuit dough and pie crust. If you want trans fat-free cookies before the ban, the best bet is to make them homemade with butter instead of shortening.
- Margarine typically contains very little saturated fat, but what you may not realize is that it contains approximately 2 grams of trans fat per serving. Fortunately, many margarine brands are phasing trans fat out of their products.
- Coffee creamer often contains small amounts of trans fat – sometimes none at all, but sometimes as much as 0.7 grams per serving. Remember that if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the label will indicate that it contains no trans fat at all, so it’s important to check the label for partially hydrogenated oil.
The Bottom Line
Many processed foods will become healthier if the FDA’s proposed trans fat ban is brought into law, but these types of foods still won’t be as healthy as those that aren’t processed at all.