US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Welcomes FDA Move to Remove “Generally Recognized as Safe” Status for Trans Fats

In February, Harkin Urged FDA to Deny GRAS Status to Partially Hydrogenated Oil and Remove it from the Food Supply

Thursday, November 07, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today welcomed the announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a preliminary determination to withdraw “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) status for partially hydrogenated oil. This is the first step towards phasing these harmful oils out of the food supply. In a letter earlier this year, Harkin urged the FDA to deny GRAS status to partially hydrogenated oil in light of growing research showing the health benefits of such a ban for consumers.

“The consumption of trans fat poses a serious health threat by increasing blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease—the leading cause of death for Americans,” said Harkin. “Eliminating artificial trans fats from our food supply will be an enormous step towards improving our public health and reducing our health care costs, as well as potentially helping to prevent thousands of premature, fatal heart attacks each year. The FDA has taken bold action by taking the next steps in examining the ‘safe status’ of partially hydrogenated oil and I applaud the agency for doing so.” 

Harkin has championed preventive healthcare initiatives throughout his career, including increased access to screenings for breast cancer and other diseases, the school fruit and vegetable pilot program, and tobacco control.  Most recently, as HELP Committee Chairman, Harkin championed the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act.  Preventive initiatives in doctors’ offices and the community help rein in costs across the full health care spectrum. Earlier this year, Harkin introduced the Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention America (HeLP America) Act, which includes critical public health and prevention initiatives to fight chronic disease, encourage healthier schools, communities and workplaces, and improve physical activity opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The FDA will open a 60-day comment period on the preliminary determination to deny GRAS status to partially hydrogenated oil.

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