American Heart Association to FDA: The industry doesn’t need years to phase out artificial trans fats

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

American Heart Association: Phase out trans fats in 12-18 months
The food industry doesn’t need years to phase out partially hydrogenated oils (which create harmful artificial trans fats), according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), which argue that 12-18 months gives firms ample time to change recipes.

In comments submitted to the docket on the FDA’s proposal to revoke the GRAS status of PHOs (click here​) AHA president Dr Mariell Jessup and ACC president Dr John Harold said: “We are concerned that the Agency appears to be considering a multi-year compliance period that would give producers several years to phase-out trans fats.

“Because significant work has already been done, we believe that a multi-year phase-out is not necessary. Instead, we encourage the FDA to implement a shorter compliance timeline such as no more than one year to 18 months from the date of publication of the final rule.”

Other approaches instead of PHO ban could be ‘problematic’

The FDA should also reject alternative approaches such as encouraging firms to reduce trans fats voluntarily or setting specific limits for trans fats in foods, say the AHA and ACC.

“Revoking the GRAS status of PHOs is the best approach. While some food producers and restaurants have reduced or eliminated trans fat content – likely as a result of the 2006 requirement that trans fat content appear on the Nutrition Facts panel and local trans fat bans – many processed food products continue to contain trans fats.

“We do not believe that encouragement from the agency will result in significant voluntarily drops in these levels.”

Meanwhile, setting specific limits for trans fats would also be “problematic” ​as it is “unclear how the FDA could establish a safe limit when trans fats have been found to increase risk at any amount”, ​they add.

NFIB: Our members need several years to comply, not just one or two

While some industry associations have left it to the 11th​ hour to submit comments (the revised deadline is March 8), those that have say 12-18 months is not long enough.

For example, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) notes: “Small companies understand that a move to regulate PHOs out of commercially sold food is inevitable. However, unlike at a large baked-goods manufacturer or restaurant chain, small businesses have not had the time nor the resources to reformulate their recipes to achieve the same taste in the foods they currently make.

“FDA should establish a timeframe for complying with the ban that takes place over several years, not just one or two.”

Meanwhile, soybean industry collaborative Qualisoy told FoodNavigator-USA in a recent interview that should the FDA resolve a ban is the best way forward, it should give firms at least two years from when a final rule is published to comply (click here​).

Click here​ to read all the comments in the docket (which closes on Saturday March 8th​). 

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