Countries urged to wipe out killer trans fats from foods

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Partially hydrogenated oil, the source of the artificial trans fat, is now vanishingly rare in the United States, and the American food industry will easily be able to comply with the looming June 18 deadline set by the Food and Drug Administration for the industry to eliminate it. The initiative, dubbed REPLACE, is aimed at saving the more than 500,000 lives a year that the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Health Organization estimates are lost to cardiovascular disease caused by Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods.

New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fats a decade ago, following Denmark's lead.

Trans fats occur naturally in meat and dairy products.

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Moreover, it's possible to eliminate trans fats without changing the flavor of food, so even if you haven't already been eating this way, you probably won't know the difference.

"I wish that dietary recommendations would refer to foods, not nutrients", she wrote in her blog. In Mexico, a country that has a very high intake of trans fats, initiatives are being established to lower that. "Therefore, they are a euphemism for snack and other foods containing them". Food and food-oil manufacturers are working on replacements for the partially hydrogenated oils they've relied on for so many years, and palm, canola, and sunflower oil are widely used.

Businesses ranging from large processed-food manufacturers to mom-and-pop restaurants and bakeries like using trans fats - usually for frying and as shortening in baked goods - because they are affordable and have a long shelf life.

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The strategy to eliminate trans fats, dubbed REPLACE, calls for a broad awareness and advocacy campaign as well as legislative action worldwide "to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats". "Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there's no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed". Diets high in trans-fat increase heart disease risk by 21 percent and deaths by 28 percent.

World Health Organization laid out a six-point route for getting rid of trans fats that includes encouraging the replacement of trans fats with healthier vegetable oils and legislating to make it harder to use them.

"We call on food producers in our sector to take prompt action and we stand ready to support effective measures to work toward the elimination of industrially produced trans fats and ensure a level playing field in this area", said Rocco Rinaldi, secretary-general of the International Food and Beverage Alliance. That's when partially hydrogenated oil began to tumble out of favor. Butter does raise cholesterol, but margarines made using unsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats do not. Natural trans fats are only produced in small quantities in the gut of some animals, while artificial trans fats are much more common and are created through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

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