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Trans Fat Drop Huge Public Health Progress, Says CSPI

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

February 8, 2012

The news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 58 percent decline in trans fat in blood between 2000 and 2009 is great news for American hearts and arteries. Trans fat raises bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, and promotes heart disease, so the less of it the better. That dramatic drop represents enormous public health progress and is almost certainly preventing thousands of heart attacks and premature deaths each year.

Credit for the reductions in trans fat is shared by many parties. New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, California, Montgomery County, Md., and other jurisdictions banned most artificial trans fat from restaurant food. (Some bad publicity and various lawsuits also helped spur progress.) Many food manufacturers and restaurants voluntarily switched oils. The FDA helped greatly by requiring that trans fat be listed on Nutrition Facts labels. And oil processors, seed developers, and farmers worked hard to produce and market healthier oils for restaurants and food manufacturers to use.

Still, products ranging from Long John Silver’s fried foods to Pop Secret Popcorn to Pillsbury’s Buttermilk Buscuits are loaded with trans fat. It’s high time the Food and Drug Administration banned partially hydrogenated oil, the source of artificial trans fat, as CSPI petitioned the agency to do almost eight years ago.