WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has extended the comment period on its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils — a source of artificial trans fats — are not safe to use to use in foods.
The FDA published its original recommendation to revoke the oils’ “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status on Nov. 8, with a 60-day comment period, but it has extended the comment period another 60 days, to March 8.
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“This extension is being provided in response to numerous stakeholder requests to provide additional time for comments,” the FDA said in announcing the extension.
Companies that wish to use ingredients that do not have the GRAS designation must petition the FDA to use them. On Tuesday, the American Academy of Family Physicians said it ‘strongly supported” the FDA’s effort to eliminate trans fats.
"We are pleased to wholeheartedly support the FDA's determination that PHOs are not generally safe for use in food," AAFP Board Chair Jeff Cain said in a statement.
The AAFP said it has found that partially hydrogenated oils contribute to obesity, have adverse effects on blood cholesterol levels, put patients at risk for coronary heart disease and contribute to insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes.
Read more: FDA Recommends Phaseout of Trans Fats
In making her initial announcement about the effort to eliminate trans fats, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg noted that many manufacturers and retailers already have moved to decrease the amount of trans fat in their products.
Still, she said, "While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern. The FDA's action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat."
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