Trans Fat “Ban” Not What It Appears

December 3, 2013
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oil-pouring-trans-fatsIt’s a political move that could promote a Monsanto GMO product. Action Alert!

You may have already heard the news: the FDA has banned trans fats! Well, sort of.

Under the FDA’s proposed rule, trans fat itself is not banned. Instead, the ban is on the major source of trans fats in processed food—partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). PHOs are artificial trans fats, created via the process of adding hydrogen to vegetable oils in order to make them semi-solid. Naturally occurring trans fat is found in some meat and dairy including beef, lamb and, in small amounts, butter. Many margarines, on the other hand, are made with PHOs and therefore contain high levels of artificial trans fats. Increasingly, margarines are switching to palm oils (which are semi-solid at room temperature and solid if refrigerated) to eliminate PHOs.

It’s important to note that since this is a proposed rule, and not a final one, there’s still a chance it could be changed or dropped. In the rule, the FDA mentions that the agency is open to alternate approaches to addressing PHOs in food, such as the setting of acceptable trans fat threshold levels.

The timing and intent of the FDA’s rule is suspect for three reasons. First, it was announced only after most companies had already eliminated trans fat—it’s currently only in a handful of foods. Secondly, it was a quiet reaction to a lawsuit the FDA was sure to lose. And lastly,the ban will promote market demand for two new GMO soybeans by Monsanto and DuPont, which are engineered for trans fat free oils.

Essentially, the FDA released the PHO ban at a politically perfect point: when it would no longer anger Big Food, when it would quietly resolve a lawsuit (without the FDA losing face or gaining bad press), and when it would be would be of tremendous benefit to Big Biotech’s and Big Food’s newly deregulated products.

Here’s the timeline:

  • January 2006: The FDA mandates labeling for foods containing trans fat. There is, however, a loophole that allows foods containing fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to claim “zero trans fat.”
  • 2007 to 2011: By 2011, trans fat is reduced or eliminated in 66% of the most common processed supermarket products.
  • August 2009: Dr. Fred Kummerow files a citizen petition with the FDA in August of 2009 to have trans fats banned, based on the scientific evidence of harm.
  • January 2011: The FDA signs off on a “safety assessment” on Monsanto’s Vistive Gold soybean (aka MON 87705)—based, of course, on studies submitted by Monsanto.
  • December 2011: The USDA deregulates the Vistive Gold soybean, meaning it can be planted anywhere without restrictions.
  • August 2013: Because—after four years—the FDA has failed to respond to Dr. Kummerow’s petition, he files a state-level lawsuit against the FDA.
  • November 2013: The FDA issues its proposed ban on trans fat—with no mention of Dr. Kummerow’s lawsuit.

Monsanto and DuPont’s soybeans and the oils derived from them (DuPont makes a competing product called Plenish High Oleic Soybean Oil) are meant to appeal to consumers by giving them a “healthy” veneer since they are trans fat free. This is only the beginning: increasingly biotech companies are marketing products that are positioned to benefit consumers’ health but actually contain GMOs. (Read more about it in our article on the subject).

This move ignores the fact that since many processed foods and most whole foods are already free of trans fats, the new GMO soybeans are a superfluous “innovation.” The biotech giants also fail to tell the public that conventional soybean oil, due both to its overuse in American foods and the way it is created, can be incredibly unhealthy.

For the past five or six decades, soybean oil—which is composed of 35% to 55% omega 6 fats—has been the leading fat in processed food: the average American consumes 10% of their total daily calories from soybean oil. The overconsumption of soybean oil is one of the contributing factors to the average American’s imbalance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Additionally, the way nonorganic soybean oil—hydrogenated or not—is produced is inherently toxic:

  • Soybean, canola, corn, sunflower, and cottonseed oils are processed with hexane, a known neurotoxin. It’s the same substance that’s used to make gasoline.
  • It’s likely that trace amounts of hexane remains in final oil, yet the FDA does not require testing and has not set a maximum residue level for hexane.
  • Soybean oil is also treated with sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid; it’s then bleached with hydrochloric acid, which removes all vitamin A from the oil.
  • The “deodorizing” process (in its natural state, soybean oil can be smelly) strips the oil of vitamin E and phytosterols, completing its transition to “nutritionally void.”

In light of its likely political motivations—and despite the rapturous announcement in the mainstream media—we find little to praise in the FDA’s PHO ban.

Action Alert! The FDA is soliciting comments on its proposed ban on PHOs. Please send your message to the FDA today, and ask them to ban PHOs immediately. That would put a monkey wrench in what seems to be the plan, because the toxic GMO oils wouldn’t be available yet.

Take-Action1

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on December 16th with information on Dr. Kummerow’s lawsuit.

23 Responses to “Trans Fat “Ban” Not What It Appears”

  1. Ira Edwards says:

    The government never gets it right because they use the wrong sources. I am a valid biochemist. Yes, I know that natural materials can be poison, but when it comes to nutritional fats, “natural” is the key word. Natural fats are healthful (except for omega-6’s in excessive amounts) and unnatural fats are never healthful. Our bodies simply cannot adjust to them. Natural trans-fats are not a problem.
    Ira Edwards, author of Honest Nutrition orthomolecular textbook

       7 likes

    • Mike says:

      This is more nonsense form the antiGM crazies. It is impossible for them to believe that anything from GM technology is good.

      They would believe insulin or interferon from transgenic bacteria is wonderful but a GM plant ..no way. 17 years of growing and eating not a single hospitalization but they think it kills meanwhile the organic food they think is like God’s milk is killing people due to bacterial contamination — they ignore this deadly differences.

      Maybe they just think that people are so stupid if you repeat lies people will believe them —I guess they are right about that one !

         0 likes

      • Gary says:

        “Maybe they just think that people are so stupid if you repeat lies people will believe them —I guess they are right about that one ! ”

        You trust a company that has given us PCB’s, DDT, Agent orange, etc……ALL TOXIC! So you trust them to handle our food? Not me! I avoid ALL processed foods, buy organic, and grow as much of my food as I can.

        BT corn…kills bugs..Go for it. I wont.

           3 likes

  2. william wilkerson says:

    You suggest that we send request to FDA but you DO NOT furnish an Email Address ,, easy for you, a pain for me…so II’m not .

       0 likes

    • ANH-USA says:

      Hi William–Thank you for your comment! To send an email to the FDA, please click the green “Take Action!” button at the end of the article. Thanks so much–ANH-USA.

         0 likes

  3. Kathrynne Holden says:

    Please ban partially hydrogenated oil / trans fats immediately. These are not healthful at any level, and should have been banned long ago.

       0 likes

  4. john Bramble says:

    Why do American Companies continue to allow products that have poisons as part of their makeup, to be sold let alone labeled as health foods, and natural.

    Trans Fats have been so labeled for 50 years and everyone who believes that the Government is here to help us, dies of the Governments advice.

    Allowing any company that is aware that they are poisoning their customers makes the Government complicit in the process. therefore since They are there to protect us, (what other Possible use would they be).
    The mass sale of a known Toxic product that harms the American Citizen should be considered Treason and anyone guilty should be hanged or at the least Tarred and Feathered, and left for god to save.

       2 likes

  5. Peter Lee says:

    Please ban PHOs, (partially hydrogenated oils), immediately.

    Soybean, canola, corn, sunflower, and cottonseed oils are processed with hexane, a known neurotoxin. It’s the same substance that’s used to make gasoline.
    It’s likely that trace amounts of hexane remains in the final oil(s), yet there is no testing, and there is no maximum residue level set for hexane.
    Soybean oil is also treated with sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid; it’s then bleached with hydrochloric acid, which removes all vitamin A from the oil.
    The “deodorizing” process (in its natural state, soybean oil can be smelly) strips the oil of vitamin E and phytosterols, completing its transition to “nutritionally void.”

    Please ban these PHOs without delay. Thank you.

       2 likes

  6. Mike Kelley says:

    When will the FDA actually take up the mantle of it’s responsibility to the American public and make reasoned decisions that actually protect the health of the American people? Had the FDA been actually doing it’s designed work, America wouldn’t be one of the most unhealthy industrialized countries. And now . . who is the most unhealthy country, us . . China. Good question and still one needing an answer.

       0 likes

  7. Irma says:

    Our government is so worried about trans fats. Why don’t they ban the chemicals and preservatives allowed in our foods that trigger the brain to crave the very fast foods they want us to stop eating!! First our government allows this nonsense to go on, and then they blame the people for being out of control and becoming obese because we have no will power! So much for a democratic society! First they create an environment that makes us obese, and then they want to punish us for being “their” creation!!

       1 likes

  8. Steve says:

    I am amazed that this article is so biased and inaccurate. I do like that it identifies dairy/beef trans fats, but neglects to state their prevalence.

    Here are two errors: ”
    most companies had already eliminated trans fat—it’s currently only in a handful of foods.”

    The article pretends that soy has a bad ratio of omega-6/3. It has the second best ratio of any widely used oil.

    The processing of oil is inaccurate, for instance, only non-organic oils use hexane.
    TOO MANY MISTAKES!!

       0 likes

  9. R L Kimsey says:

    While I’m concerned re the introduction of new GMO products, which is the main focus of your article, the switch to palm oil as a replacement for trans fat/PHO’s is of equal concern. While it seems like a better choice than PHOs and/or GMO soy for our health it’s devastating in other areas.

    Our increasing demand for palm oil is leading to huge destruction of rainforest in Indonesia and other locales, as more “plantations of palm trees” are being cultivated to fill the demand. Not only is loss of rainforest a huge issue in relation to climate change, it is rapidly leading to the extinction of orang-utans in the wild.

    An eye opener is to read the ingredients label in chocolate candies. It’s all palm oil now. I refuse to buy any that contain it, because of the environmental impact.

    Our entire eco-system is so totally integrated, one “good” can often cause more “bad” results.

       1 likes

  10. Russ says:

    Two of the least toxic oils to use in cooking are olive oil and coconut oil. Assuming, of course that you are not allergic to either one of these oils. At room temperature, olive oil is the usually the best oil to use. Coconut oil can withstand higher temperatures then olive oil and is therefore useful for frying. i.e. at moderate frying temperatures, coconut oil will take longer to break down then olive oil.

       1 likes

  11. Ray says:

    The harvest of Palm for Palm oil is destroying the natural habitat of the Orangutang in certain parts of the world. I would urge you to look deeply into researching this as the Organutang may be an endangered species

       1 likes

  12. Jay says:

    I think at this point that more regulation is unnecessary. There are always more negative points added into what could be good legislation and that ends up creating havoc.
    Instead of asking the government to save you (and seriously how can they save you when they can only obfuscate themselves) why not save yourself. Read labels if you feel you cannot live without processed crap food. Change what manufacturers produce by voting with your dollar for what you find acceptable..
    just my two cents.

       3 likes

  13. Alice Burkhart says:

    I have a new shopping policy. It either says GMO free, or there are no soy or corn products in the product, or I put it back on the shelf. Did you know their company dining room is GMO free? Because they know this stuff isn’t safe. They just want to make more money, not healthy food. Please do not approve any more GMO products. Thank you.

       1 likes

  14. David Zavala says:

    Once again I seem to be having to defend my right to know what’s in the food that I purchase. The FDA continues to thwart all efforts of average American citizens to improve our health by eating foods that are not detrimental to our health. While millions cry out for healthcare a great number of us are taking the healthy approach of prevention and simply trying to eat well and avoid the need for last minute emergency symptomatic medical care.
    All I am asking is that the FDA do it’s job and actually protect us from harmful substances found in our food supply instead of making what amount to backroom deals with the nation’s largest corporate manufacturers of untested and unverified artificial food substances. All this time and money would be better spent promoting organic, or at least natural foods which have been growing on the planet since the beginning of mankind. Is that really too much to ask?! It shouldn’t be.

       1 likes

  15. Enrico Pelausa says:

    Why is this not a surprise? When I first heard the announcement that the FDA was considering a ban on trans fats (hydrogenated oils) I was shocked. Then, when days went by and all of the regular pro business, anti government regulation, faux news agency, spin doctors were silent on the issue, something surely didn’t sound right. Something that should be good for the general public, but bad for the greed mongers, and not one of the well paid for, hot aired wind bags, had ruffled feathers, something wasn’t right in Denmark, or more so the U.S.A. This expose’ surely explains why, and answers all questions.

    Government is a great thing when it’s doing it’s job, being the voice and power of the public, the citizens, all of our citizens. Keeping the wealthy individuals and companies in line, preventing them from running over all the little people. Unfortunately for the last thirty years it’s been the best government those same greed mongering people can buy.

    If there might actually be anyone there in the FDA who is the least bit concerned for the public and doing what they should be doing in their position, protecting the public, move to immediately ban all PHO’s.

       0 likes

  16. Diane Rasmussen says:

    Please ban all PHOs immediately. Palm oil is a natural alternative with no PHOs.

       0 likes

  17. Oreste Lombardi says:

    Please ban all hydrogenated food grade fats and oils. This ban should apply to all chemically altered food grade oils and fats
    OresteLombardi

       0 likes

  18. Searching for answers says:

    I suppose it would be out of the question to ban PUFAs, especially those mentioned above in the article. These may also be damaging health by clogging the inspiration and exhaust of body
    cells…kinda important stuff this is.

    It irks me finding nearly all Mayonnaise, organic or not, polluted with soybean oil.

    Oh nearly forgot, this is the FDA we are discussing. They seem only concerned with the legal ramifications, not human health effects.

       0 likes

  19. Marianne Stanley says:

    Aw, c’mon! You have no idea how sick and tired we, the consumer, are at all the monkeybusiness going on within our own government that directly harms us while enriching the corporate oligarchy! Is there no end to the charade that the Food and Drug Administration is on the side of the consumer? Are you not aware that we’re aware of being lied to, duped, used, experimented on with untested foods and drugs, and consistently and cruelly put in harm’s way? How about doing what you were originally set up to do…and seeing to it that individuals have you standing between them and the goliath corporations rather than standing over there WITH them and working against us at every turn?? Now, THAT would be something worth celebrating!

       1 likes

  20. Jim Wells says:

    ban all PHOs
    Immediately
    and unequivocally

       0 likes

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