WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration believes partially hydrogenated oils (P.H.O.s) no longer belong on the list of ingredients generally recognized as safe. The agency has published a Federal Register notice to that effect with the goal of removing artificial trans fats from processed foods.
If the F.D.A.’s preliminary determination is finalized, then partially hydrogenated oils would become food additives subject to premarket approval by the agency. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot be sold legally.
“If F.D.A. determines that P.H.O.s are not GRAS, it could, in effect, mean the end of artificial, industrially-produced trans fat in foods,” said Dennis M. Keefe, Ph.D., director of the F.D.A.’s Office of Food Additive Safety. “F.D.A. is soliciting comments on how such an action would impact small businesses and how to ensure a smooth transition if a final determination is issued.”The F.D.A. has the authority to act when it believes an ingredient is, in fact, not GRAS, and that’s what the agency said its preliminary determination is doing now with P.H.O.s. A Federal Register notice will be published on Nov. 7 announcing the preliminary determination that P.H.O.s are not GRAS, which includes the opening of a 60-day public comment period.