On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration declared that a major souce of trans fat, partially hydrogenated oils, is no longer deemed "safe." As the agency works to eliminate the oils, some of your favorite foods containing it could become illegal.
Trans fat, a specific type of fat formed when liquid fats are made into solids by the addition of hydrogen atoms, has gotten a bad reputation over the years. The aforementioned process is known as hydrogenation, and while it increases the shelf life of food, it also fills consumers with “bad” cholesterol, which in turn helps cause heart attacks.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, many of the following foods still contain trans fat and could become illegal to sell if the FDA bans trans fats in processed foods for good.
Trans fat can still be found in microwave popcorn, with Jolly Time Blast o Butter Popcorn containing 4 grams per serving.
While McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) cut back on trans fats in 2002 in its french fries, and KFC (a subsidiary of Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM)) pledged to eliminate most of the fats in its foods by 2007, there are still fast food chains that use trans fats in their food. Popeyes (owned by AFC Enterprises NASDAQ:AFCE)) may have to eliminate certain menu items if the FDA bans trans fat. Popeye's Breakfast Hashbrowns, for example, contain 10 grams of artificial trans fat per serving.
Deserts such as Sara Lee’s Classic New York style Cheesecake may be banned, as it contains 3 grams of trans fats. A number of cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods still contain trans fats.
Baking mixes are also at risk of being eliminated. Keebler Ready Crust Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust, for example, contains 2 grams of trans fat.
The days of margarine may be over if the FDA has its way. While seen as a healthier alternative to butter, margarine contains high levels of trans fat, which is potentially dangerous. In addition to increasing the bad type of cholesterol, trans fat has also been linked to heart disease by scientists.
Frozen pizzas may be taken off of supermarket shelves if the FDA bans trans fat. The “cheese” used is actually imitation cheese filled made of water and hydrogenated oil. So that cheese you are eating? It is actually a spread of trans fat. Yum.