Margarine, instant noodle, fries, frozen pizza, microwavable popcorn and ready-made frosting all have something in common. These foods contain trans fat, but if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, we won't be seeing trans fat in our food any more.
The FDA plans on putting a ban on trans fat. It has decided to eliminate it from the category known as, “generally recognized as safe,” which is the same category that salt and caffeine reside in. Eliminating trans fat from our diet will help prevent about 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year, according to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.
Currently, the FDA requires food companies to indicate how much trans fat is in a product by printing it on its nutrition label. In about six months to a year, the amount of artificial trans fat in our foods should reduce greatly. With that being said, our consumption of trans fat has already decreased. In 2006, people consumed 4.6 grams of trans fat per day; in 2012, this number dropped down to 1 gram per day.
Trans fat comes from partially hydrogenated oils. It's formed when the liquid oil is treated with hydrogen gas and made solid. It is cheaper and lasts longer than butter, and it is typically used for frying and baking. However, it is also heart damaging. Consuming trans fat raises “bad” LDL cholesterol while lowering “good” HDL cholesterol. When this happens, heart arteries become clogged, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Although trans fat helps with food products' taste, Americans won’t taste the difference when the ban officially goes into effect. In 2008, New York City banned trans fat in restaurants due to community complaints. Other chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King followed that trend. They’ve been able to eliminate most, if not all, trans fat without cutting anything from the menu, and (obviously) people still buy their food.