We know it's not healthy, but could it ever be a crime to fry your food? One consumer group is so intent on raising awareness about the dangers of fat in food, that they want to make it illegal.
The group is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the same folks who've slammed popcorn, donuts, mexican food, and a whole bunch of other family favorites. But now, the CSPI is asking the Food and Drug Administration to ban partially hydrogenated oil, which is the stuff found in everything from cookies to fried foods because it is also the main source of trans fat which is what clogs the arteries.
"Getting rid of partially hydrogonated oil with trans fat is probably the single fastest, cheapest, easiest thing we could do to save thousands of lives per year," says Michel Jacobson, CSPI.
"I don't think it's realistic right now to legislate whether a food ingredient can be included in the food supply. I think that if manufacturers are taking steps to decrease the amount of trans fats, and if consumers taking steps to look out for trans fats in the food supply, we are going to see a decrease in consuming these," says Cindy Moore, Director of Nutrition, Cleveland Clinic.
The FDA is already requiring food labels to reveal exact levels of the fat by the year 2006 and some manufacturers have started the labeling or even creating trans-fat free products, but the CSPI says that's not enough. So, they've petitioned the FDA to ban the fat in a campaign they're calling "A Healthier Trans Free America."
A spokesman for the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) says that CSPI's petition is the wrong way to address the trans fat issue, and notes that improved consumer education on nutrition -- particularly on fat intake -- is a better strategy. The FDA estimates that adding trans fat information to food labels on food labels could prevent 7,600 to 17,100 cases of coronary heart disease and 2,500 to 5,600 deaths every year.
The CSPI estimates that removing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from the food supply could save between 11,000 and 30,000 lives each year.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil is formed when food makers harden liquid oil to make it solid. Partially hydrogenated oil is used to make shortening and some types of margarine, and is found in thousands of processed foods. Other trans fats occur naturally in beef and dairy products. To view CSPI's legal filing and lists of foods with and without hydrogenated oils, you can ( click here ).