FDA pushes to eliminate trans fats

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Updated: Fri, 08 Nov 2013 01:04:51 CST

It made national news more than a decade ago when McDonald's started frying their food in trans fat free oil.

Soon others joined in.  Since 2005, food makers have eliminated 73% of trans fats in our foods.

But for the FDA, that's not enough. 

"In the last 10 years our intake of trans fats went from about 4.5 grams a day down to about 1 gram a day," said Shannon Frink, a registered dietitian and GI Community Health Screenings volunteer. 

One gram. That's enough for the FDA to say no more.

"There's a lot of foods that it has been removed from but it's still showing up in trace amounts. But a little bit adds up, and over time you can see the complications from it," said Pat McCoy, a registered dietitian and Mary Lanning Director of Hospitality Services. 

And how bad are trans fats? Not only do they decrease the good fats, but they sky rocket cholesterol and let those bad fats build up on in our arteries.

"They estimate that they can prevent up to 3,000 to 5,000 heart disease related deaths just by making this one change," said Frink.

So where exactly do we find trans fats?

"In our processed foods, in our snack items, in our restaurant foods," said Frink. 

"It's already breaded. It's pre-fried. You just stick it in the oven and finish it off. Those are things that you're going to find trans fats in," added McCoy. 

As the FDA wrestles with banning trans fats, McCoy said we all need to make changes.  Starting with going back to the basics and cooking from scratch rather than relying on prepared foods.

"We've got to come to a screeching halt. Back up. Shift gears. Improve the health and well-being of our population. We've got to start living better," said McCoy. 

If the ban goes through, food-makers will have to ask the FDA for permission to add trans fats to their foods.

The proposal is now in a 60 day review process for public comment before the FDA will take action.