The Food and Drug Administration is effectively putting an end to the use of trans fats. Companies will have to phase out their use. From the FDA:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.
Part of the FDA’s responsibility to the public is to ensure that food in the American food supply is safe. Therefore, due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs [partially hydrogenated oils], FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, for short. If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.
If FDA determines that PHOs are not GRAS, it could, in effect, mean the end of artificial, industrially-produced trans fat in foods, says Dennis M. Keefe, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety. FDA 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.
This a smart public health move. There are few justification for using trans fats instead of traditional fats. They do modestly increase shelf life and can be slightly cheaper, but those advantages are not worth the damage to health. The change will have little direct impact on people or the economy while making the country healthier.