FDA to ban all foods with trans fats - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

FDA to ban all foods with trans fats

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Your trips to the grocery store and restaurants are about to change. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it will ban all food with trans fat from being sold, saying it's a threat to people's health.

Federal officials say the rule change could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and several thousand deaths every year. Trans fat is considered the worst kind of fat for your heart, but it may not be something you study closely before tossing some foods into your grocery cart.

The FDA says while the amount of trans fats in our diets has dramatically dropped over the last decade, it's still very easy to find foods with it. They say extensive research shows it's not safe to eat and is a "significant health concern." Now, local shoppers and food manufacturers are bracing for the change.

Chattanooga Registered Dietician Pamela Kelle is fed up with trans fat and it's artery-clogging affect on people who eat foods with it.

"Clearly directly related to heart disease, and that's what we in the medical community have been fighting for with our patients," Kelle said.

She's relieved to hear the news that after decades of research, there's enough evidence to rule it as unsafe for people to eat. The source of trans fats is "hydrogenated oil." You'll see that under the list of ingredients.

"That's where they pump hydrogen to make it solid at room temp," Kelle said.

Not everyone agrees the government needs to step in.

"I don't think food is killing people, I think they're killing themselves with what they eat and how much they eat," Chattanooga resident Corey Prather said.

Current regulations require trans fats to be labeled on a product if it has more than .05 grams in a serving. It's commonly found in processed foods like microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, and baked goods.

But even if it's not something consumers care one way or the other about now, the food industry sure does. Chattanooga and Collegedale have been home to iconic Little Debbie for more than 70 years.

"At McKee Foods we're looking at the FDA's filing pretty closely as everybody is," McKee Foods Spokesperson Mike Gloekler said.

Officials at McKee Foods are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Swiss Roll. They say it's among the majority of their treats that have less than .05 grams of trans fats, but if the FDA ruling is finalized, they'll have to make some recipe changes.

"We'll have to reformulate, and I understand the FDA is going to give companies time to reformulate, but if we have to eliminate them completely, then that's something we're going to have to work on," Gloekler said.

The FDA isn't yet setting a timeline for the phase-out, but will collect comments for two months before officials determine how long it will take.

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