Get Fed__ Your Favorite Junk Food Is About To Get A Whole Lot Healthier
You’ve probably already heard by now that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will be placing a ban on trans fat found in lots of snack foods. This has been in the works since 2013 when the FDA “tentatively declared” that PHOs – partially hydrogenated oils that make up nearly all trans fat in processed foods – were no longer safe. The FDA estimates that since 2003, PHOs have been reduced by 78%, but they’re still found in lots of processed foods like microwave popcorn and Oreos.
The FDA is now taking things a step further, though. Companies will have to either reformate their products to get rid of the trans fats or petition for them to be allowed in specific cases. The FDA is giving all companies three years to do this, with the exception of naturally occurring trans fats found in some meat and dairy products.
The reason behind the ban is the suggested evidence that using saturated fats instead of trans fats is a lot better for your heart. The American Medical Association says that the ban could ultimately help save lives by lowering the risk for heart disease by 6%, preventing between 7,740 and 22,770 deaths per year. Since coronary heart disease is the top killer for both men and women in the U.S., this is a big deal.
It doesn't come without a price, though. While the ban is great for our health, it's not so great for the environment. Most likely, palm oil will replace the trans fat-filled oils now used. But producing palm oil is often done in a way that involves harsh labor conditions and the destruction of rain forests. Alex Morgan, director of markets transformation at the Rainforest Alliance says, “In Indonesia and Malaysia, growth in palm oil production has been the single biggest driver of deforestation." But that's not all. "There are a number of other issues: [such as] treatment of indigenous communities. Many landowners’ rights have been taken away by large companies through manipulation and there’s a fair amount of chemicals used in growing palm trees."
Morgan also says that the Rainforest Alliance keeps a list of companies that meet their standards of sustainable palm oil production that includes Kellogg's and L'Oreal. He feels that there's reason to be optimistic, though. “We’re seeing a growing focus on sustainable production across the board. There’s a growing understanding in companies of the need to practice more sustainable agriculture, improve productivity, and protect environment.”