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FDA considers ban on trans fats, reactions mixed

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:22:32 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 07 2013 10:25:22 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Food and Drug Administration is considering a national ban on trans fats, and reactions have been mixed.

The FDA has made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils, a major source of the fats, are no longer “generally recognized as safe.” If the decision is finalized after a comment period, the oils will be considered additives that can’t be added to food products without the government organization’s approval.

Trans fats typically form when hydrogen is mixed with vegetable oils, turning them into a solid fat. The process improves texture and taste, and restaurant owners and food manufacturers sometimes rely on it to improve shelf-life of a food product.

They’re often used in frozen pizza, and microwave popcorn. They’re also sometimes used to cook french fries.

John Kordonouris, the owner of Greek Pastry Shop in Missoula, cooks his fries with trans fat-free oil, though he says that it should be his right to make that choice, not a government requirement.

“I don’t think it’s the FDA’s right to tell us what we can and can’t eat,” said Kordonouris.

Missoula City-County Health Dpeartment Nutrition Services Manager Mary Pittaway tells NBC Montana regulations could help boost health for citizens by creating an environment with healthier options.

“The body can’t metabolize these artificially manipulated fats,” said Pittaway.

Trans fats are considered among the worst types of fat for the human heart. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says a ban could prevent 7,000 deaths and 20,000 heart attacks each year.

Many companies have stopped using trans fats in past years, and McDonalds stopped using trans fats to cook their french fries more than 10 years ago.