A local cardiologist thinks the FDA is on target when it considers a ban on trans fats

A local cardiologist thinks the FDA is on target when it considers a ban on trans fats.

The Centers for Disease Control recently issues a warning about the food additive and the FDA declared they are no longer generally recognized as safe.

If the determination is finalized, partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat in processed food, would be subject to premarket approval by the FDA. It could mean the end of using trans fat in processed foods.

“I would support banning trans fats completely,” said Dr. Aziz Maksoud, with Cardiovascular Consultants Inc. and medical director of the Accredited Chest Pain Center at Susan B. Allen Hospital in El Dorado. “It is just like smoking. Trans fats have been proven harmful.”

Maksoud said studies have shown with all other factors being equal, a diet high in trans fats will accelerate heart disease.

The fight against trans fats began about 20 years ago. Many metropolitan areas have already banned them from restaurant offerings. McDonald's, Taco Bell and KFC dropped them from menus years ago.

Food producers say they have already limited the use of trans fats in processed foods.

Maksoud said even with the previous actions, the average American diet still includes a lot of trans fats in fast food burgers and margerines.

“Some fats in a diet are helpful,” Maksoud said. “Omega three fatty acids can actually be helpful. But trans fats are not. That is not new information.”

Farmers are promoting new soybean oils they say will eliminate the need for partial hydrogenation, the process that creates trans fats still used to enhance the texture of some pie crusts, cookies and margarine.

“The FDA is very cautious,” Maksoud said. “They always wait for concrete evidence.”

The arguments against the ban fall on the side of allowing people the freedom to make their own food decisions, even if those decisions are proven to be unhealthy.

The FDA ban could accelerate the removal of trans fats from foods which is said to be down 75 percent from 2005 levels.

Kent Bush can be reached at kbush@butlercountytimesgazette.com.