A 2007 survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that most know trans fat is unhealthy, but don't know how to avoid it. Only 21% could list three foods containing trans fat, but that's up from 17% the year before.
General Mills has filed a patent for low-density frostings that are low in trans fat and made with non-hydrogenated, palm oil-based fat. The move follows the Food and Drug Administration's announcement that food companies have until June 18, 2018 to remove partially hydrogenated oils from their products. "The challenge of re-formulating previous commercial products to avoid trans fats is daunting, especially if consumer expectations are already in place," the company wrote in the application.
Several nutrition experts have praised the FDA's proposal to phase out partially hydrogenated oils, with Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, calling for a time frame of "months, not years." Manufacturers have offered possible alternatives to the oils, including interesterified vegetable oils, high oleic canola and soybean oils, and blends of palm oil fractions and other oils. All are possible replacements for trans fat, although research-and-development efforts continue, said Erik Heggen of food-processing company ADM.
Several companies, including McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, gave up trans fats following a 2006 FDA ruling that would require their inclusion in a product to be reported on the item's label. However, several have had trouble replacing trans fats with an appropriately healthy alternative, instead turning to saturated palm oil and palm kernel oil. "People know trans fats are not good for them," said Robert Eckel, immediate past president of the American Heart Association. "But they do not understand that replacing them with saturated fat is not a good option."
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration set to require food labels to include total trans-fat content by 2006, many food companies are abandoning hydrogenated soybean oil in favor of trans-fat free corn or canola oils. A reduction in soybean oil use may mean some farmers will suffer, but researchers are close to developing a low-linolenic soybean that will help cut the artery-clogging fat. Products that have already replaced trans-fat with other oils include Frito-Lay chips and Campbell Foods' Goldfish crackers.
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requiring food labels to include total trans-fat content, many food companies are switching from hydrogenated soybean oil to trans-fat free corn or canola oils, but researchers are close to developing a low-linolenic soybean that will help reduce fat content. "We have the information now that tells us that trans fats have a negative impact on our health," said GMA's Stephanie Childs. Products that have already replaced trans-fat with other oils include Frito-Lay chips and Campbell Foods' Goldfish crackers.