FDA ruling on Trans-Fats

FDA released its’ final determination that Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) are not Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). The determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from stakeholders during the public comment period.

PHOs are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods. In FDA view, removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year.

Implementation

FDA has set a compliance period of three years. This will allow food companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs. Many companies have already been working to remove PHOs from processed foods and the FDA anticipates that many may eliminate them ahead of the three-year compliance date.

It’s important to note that trans fat will not be completely gone from foods because it occurs naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products, and is present at very low levels in other edible oils.

The FDA encourages consumers seeking to reduce trans fat intake to check a food’s ingredient list to determine whether or not it contains partially hydrogenated oil.

Background

In January 2006, FDA required the food industry to declare the amount of trans fat in food on the Nutrition Facts label. FDA data indicate that many processed foods have been reformulated to reduce the amount of trans fat since the requirement was instituted, but a substantial number of products still contain PHOs.

One of FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe. In November 2013, FDA made a preliminary determination that PHOs are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. FDA opened a 60-day public comment period on this measure to solicit data and information on a number of issues, including:

1. Whether FDA should finalize its tentative determination that PHOs are no longer GRAS;
2. How long it would take producers to reformulate food products to eliminate PHOs.

The comment period was then extended an additional 60 days and closed March 8, 2014.

The final determination was released June 16, 2015. This determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from all stakeholders received during the public comment period (see Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils, June 2015).

To learn more about trans fat, see also the FDA Trans Fat page.

EU Situation

In EU art. 30.7 of the FIC Regulation (“Food Information to Consumers” Reg. (EU) n. 1169/2011) says that “by 13 December 2014, the Commission, taking into account scientific evidence and experience acquired in Member States, shall submit a report on the presence of trans fats in foods and in the overall diet of the Union population. The aim of the report shall be to assess the impact of appropriate means that could enable consumers to make healthier food and overall dietary choices or that could promote the provision of healthier food options to consumers, including, among others, the provision of information on trans fats to consumers or restrictions on their use. The Commission shall accompany this report with a legislative proposal, if appropriate.”

Today the report has not been submitted yet and the Commission has been deeply criticized, especially from consumers associations for the unexpected delay. As a matter of fact in this situation is not even possible to declare voluntary the trans fat value in the EU format of the nutrition declaration (while in USA is mandatory from 2006).

Here below, you can find the definition of Trans fatty acids (TFA) and the advice given by EFSA in a 2010 Scientific Opinion:

“Trans fatty acids are not synthesised by the human body and are not required in the diet. Therefore, no Population Reference Intake, Average Requirement, or Adequate Intake is set. Consumption of diets containing trans-monounsaturated fatty acids, like diets containing mixtures of saturated fatty acids, increases blood total and LDL cholesterol concentrations in a dose-dependent manner, compared with consumption of diets containing cis-monounsaturated fatty acids or cispolyunsaturated fatty acids. Consumption of diets containing trans-monounsaturated fatty acids also results in reduced blood HDL cholesterol concentrations and increases the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio. The available evidence indicates that trans fatty acids from ruminant sources have adverse effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins similar to those from industrial sources when consumed in equal amounts. Prospective cohort studies show a consistent relationship between higher intakes of trans fatty acids and increased risk of coronary heart disease. The available evidence is insufficient to establish whether there is a difference between ruminant and industrial trans fatty acids consumed in equivalent amounts on the risk of coronary heart disease. Dietary trans fatty acids are provided by several fats and oils that are also important sources of essential fatty acids and other nutrients. Thus, there is a limit to which the intake of trans fatty acids can be lowered without compromising adequacy of intake of essential nutrients. Therefore, the Panel concludes that trans fatty acids intake should be as low as is possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet. Limiting the intake of trans fatty acids should be considered when establishing nutrient goals and recommendations.”

 

10 most read articles in 2014

Dear readers,

This year Foodlawlatest.com doubled his visitors, and we have now more than 10.000 visits each month from more than 160 countries. It’s an amazing result and I have to thank you all my readers for this.

Here’s a recap of the 10 most read articles in 2014:

1. EU maintains ban on betel leaves from Bangladesh: a fabulous guest article written by my dearest friend Francesco Montanari, Food Law consultant in Lisbon, on import/export issues in EU, in particular regarding the ban of betel leaves import from Bangladesh.

2. EU – Breaking news on allergens labelling: in the first days of December DG Sanco opened a public consultation on Guidelines relating to the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances as listed in Annex II of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.

3. Hepatitis A in frozen berries: the “silent outbreak” – My article on Meyerlegal newlsetter: on 8th September 2014, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published the final results of its study on the epidemic of hepatitis A (HAV) that, last year, hit Italy and, to a lesser extent, several other European countries and that is thought to have been caused by some mix of frozen berries of Eastern-European origin. The article tries to highlight the reasons why this very outbreak should be considered an important stress test for the European food safety system as a whole nad why this event was so underestimated.

4. FSA UK – Organic Tofu recall due to a potential risk of botulism: a serious public health matter in April 2014.

5. EU Food Law Handbooka review of one of the most interesting and comprehensive book of the year on this topic. The book is edited by Prof. Bernd Van der Muelen and see the participation of really good friends and gifted professionals like Martin Holle (Nutrition policy in the European Union), Cecilia Kuhn and Francesco Montanari (Importing food into the EU), Rozita Spirovska Vaskoska and many others.

6. Study Demonstrates Superior Bioavailability of Curcumin Micelle: an interesting study for who is interested in the nutraceutical sector.

7. DG-SANCO published translated Q&A on Reg. UE 1169/2011: in May DG Sanco published the first and for now unique document of Q&A on the FIC Regulation in all the official languages of the Union.

8. Allergens Labelling (FIC Regulation n. 1169/2011) on Foodservice Consultant: a July article, published on this HORECA review about the upcoming allergens labelling in EU.

9. USA – FDA Egg Safety Rule: in November the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a regulation expected to prevent each year approximately 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis.

10. Written Q&A to EU Commission – Joint answer on trans fatty acids: in this answer to four written questions by MEPs (click the highlighted numbers to open them), Mr. Borg analyses the state of the art in EU about trans fatty acids. In US the issue is at the top of the FDA agenda. FDA this year has made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the major dietary source of trans fat in the processed food supply, are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe, or GRAS.

Thank you all our readers. Keep reading and sharing and happy new year!