Posts Tagged ‘ federal nutrition standards ’

FDA Makes Move to Ban Trans Fats

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration of the federal government has announced a that partially hydrogenated oils, which are a major source of “trans fats” in processed foods, are no longer “generally recognized as safe” in the U.S. food supply.  The move is considered a first step toward a ban of the artificial fats in most foods, as CNN.com reports:

If the preliminary determination is finalized, according to the FDA, then partially hydrogenated oils will become food additives that could not be used in food without approval. Foods with unapproved additives cannot legally be sold.

Trans fat can be found in processed foods including desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizza, margarine and coffee creamer, and has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Partially hydrogenated oil is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to make solid fats, like shortening and margarine. It increases the shelf life and the flavor of foods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or shortening, was used in American kitchens as early as 1911.

However, in recent years many food manufacturers have taken steps to limit or eliminate trans fat from their products.

McDonald’s, for instance, stopped cooking its french fries in trans fat more than a decade ago. The company’s website says all its fried menu items are free of trans fat.

New York City in 2007 adopted a regulation banning partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and spreads in restaurants.

Trans fat intake among American consumers decreased from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about a gram a day in 2012, according to the FDA.

However, “current intake remains a significant public health concern,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a written statement.

There is no safe level of consumption of trans fat, Hamburg said. It has been shown to raise the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol.

Image: Margarine on bread, via Shutterstock

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New Rules Require Healthy Snacks at Schools

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

New federal school nutrition standards were released today, requiring that schools offer healthy snack choices to students and avoid unhealthy options like candy and chips.  Healthy choices include items such as granola bars, trail mix, and baked chips according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards.  CNN has more on the standards, which are the first such measure to be passed in three decades:

The regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50% whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed.

Beverages will be under the microscope as well. Sports drinks, which contain relatively high amounts of sugar, are prohibited. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100% fruit and vegetable juice, and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.

Schools and food and beverage companies must meet these standards by July 1, 2014, according to the USDA. That means the rules would be in effect for the 2014-2015 school year….

…”Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

Children will still be allowed to bring in any snacks from home that they choose, and parents can continue to deliver treats for birthday celebrations or holidays to the classroom. Special fund-raising events such as bake sales are also allowed.

Image: School vending machine, via Shutterstock

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