Trans fat doesn’t stir much ‘nanny state’ debate

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Heritage Foundation research fellow Daren Bakst, who specializes in agriculture issues, blogged that the FDA is “ignoring the most important issue: the freedom of Americans.”

A few fans of ready-to-spread cake frostings and microwave popcorn that still contain trans fat griped via Twitter.

They don’t have to worry immediately.

The FDA must consider comments from the food industry and the public before it comes up with a timeline for phasing out trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils. It could take years to get them off the market.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, has been warning about the dangers since the early 1990s. Advocacy by the center helped persuade the government to add trans fat to nutrition labels beginning in 2006.

That created consumer pressure on food companies to find tasty ways to replace partially hydrogenated oil with less harmful fats. The companies’ success helped clear the way for the government to consider a trans fat ban, he said.

“It’s a little bit of an exception, in that it’s so harmful and it was so widely used,” Jacobson said, “and there are substitutes so that people can’t tell the difference when it’s removed.”

Next on Jacobson’s wish list is something that would be much harder for industry and the FDA to accomplish: reducing the salt in processed foods.

“There are estimates that it’s causing around 100,000 deaths prematurely every year in this country,” he said. “That is just huge.”

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Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnieCass

 

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