Consumer nutrition advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest is criticizing the Food and Drug Administration for failing to ban partially hydrogenated oil -- the source of artificial trans fat -- in packaged foods and restaurant fare, as well as the companies still using that oil in some products.
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson says that most large food manufacturers and restaurant chains have eliminated partially hydrogenated oil from most products as a result of local and state restrictions, lawsuits and bad publicity. The nonproft estimates that companies have eliminated well over half of the partially hydrogenated oil from the U.S. food supply.
However, consumers should not assume that "the problem has been solved," because "several large companies continue to market products containing unhealthy and unnecessary amounts of trans fat," Jacobson stresses.
In a press release and media interviews, CSPI cites examples that include Marie Callender's Lattice Apple Pie (ConAgra); some varieties of Pop Secret microwave popcorn (Diamond Foods); Mrs. Budd's Original Recipe Chicken Pot Pie; Pillsbury’s Buttermilk Biscuits (General Mills); Pepperidge Farm’s Luscious 3-Layer Lemon Flavor Cake (Campbell Soup Co.); Utz’s Cheese Flavored Puff’n Corn, Jimmy Dean’s Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissant Sandwich (Sara Lee Corp.); and Celeste’s Original Pizza (Pinnacle Foods Group) as being among "dozens" of products that still contain 4 to 7 grams of trans fat per serving.
On the restaurant front, CSPI notes that Long John Silver's Breaded Clam Strips contain 7 grams of trans fat, and that while White Castle recently eliminated trans fat from most of its menu offerings, its donuts have 8 to 9 grams of trans fat, and some of its regionally marketed pastries also contain large amounts of these fats.
CSPI reports that it filed a regulatory petition with the FDA in 2004 urging the agency to ban partially hydrogenated fat in all foods, but there has been no action on the agency's part.
“Considering the virtual unanimity among scientists that trans is the most harmful fat in the food supply, it is totally irresponsible for companies like Sara Lee, Pepperidge Farm, General Mills, and Long John Silver’s, along with many smaller ones, to continue marketing foods with artificial trans fat,” Jacobson contends.