On June 17, 2015 the FDA issued it's Final Determination regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs).  Their finding was that there is no longer a consensus that PHOs are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in human food.  With this issue, as of June 18, 2018, food manufacturers are no longer permitted to sell PHOs or food products containing PHOs without prior FDA approval.

PHOs are found in many popular foods, such as baked goods and frozen foods; they’ve been widely used as ingredients since the 1950s, as they increase the shelf and flavor life of foods.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing comments on its proposed action to declare partially hydrogenated oils unsafe for food use due to their trans fat content.  The proposed rule first appeared in the Federal Register on Nov. 8, 2013.

Trans fat, which is produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, has been linked to heart disease.  Many consumers started turning away from food containing trans fat, and as a result many processed food manufacturers voluntarily changed their food formulations to reduce or eliminate trans fat. 

FDA states that substances added to food that are Generally Recognized As Safe, or GRAS, are generally recognized by qualified experts as safe under the conditions of intended use.

FDA has yet to make a final decision to remove the GRAS status of partially hydrogenated oils.

Many food companies want to maintain the "safe status" on all their products.  This will bring certain changes in products ingredients, and moving away from using PHO’s may well become a new standard.

An update by FDA may come this June, as the estimated time to complete the review of public comments on the proposed rule and to take any final action on its tentative determination.  If the proposed rule is decided upon, food manufacturers would no longer be permitted to sell PHO, directly or as ingredient in food products, without FDA first approving its use as a food additive. 

Latest scientific evidence points to the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat PHO’s, the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, and deems PHO’s as not Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for any use in food. 

FDA estimated that it will complete its review of public comments on the proposed rule and take any final action on its tentative determination by June 1, 2015. 

If the FDA rules that PHO’s are not GRAS, manufacturers may need to reformulate some products. 

In the meantime, consumers can take some steps of precaution.  If your favorite food contains trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label, consider the amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat – and go for the products that have the lowest combined amount of these nutrients. 

Even if a food product’s packaging claims to have "0 grams trans fat," it's a good idea to check the ingredients.  Current regulations allow companies to make that claim if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.  If there is partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredients, the product might contain a small amount of trans fat, and consumers should be aware of this.

At Weaver Nut, we strive to stay current on issues in the food industry, and to continue to provide you with products of the highest possible quality and safety.  

Source: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

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