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February 04, 2016

USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines Soft-Pedal Dangers of Artificial Trans Fats, Coast Packing Company Says

USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines Soft-Pedal Dangers of Artificial Trans Fats, Coast Packing Company Says

“While we appreciate the challenges in creating comprehensive dietary guidelines for the nation’s diverse population, the new suggestions from USDA/HHS are at time confusing – even to the point of conveying contradictory messages or soft-pedaling some very risky elements of the American diet,” said Eric R. Gustafson, CEO, Coast Packing Company.  “The USDA and HHS continue to declare that lower saturated fat intake must happen, when in fact the data does not support that position.”

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, recommends that total fat make up 20-35 percent of daily energy needs.  “For decades, we’ve been told to cut saturated fat consumption to prevent heart disease,” Gustafson said.  “As a nation, we’ve responded by reducing red meat consumption and increasing carbohydrate consumption.  Lo and behold, as eating patterns have shifted, Americans have experienced a sustained increase in obesity rates.”

As researchers sought to determine why this was so, more evidence emerged that saturated fat is not clearly linked to heart disease.  In 2010, a meta-analysis of 21 studies concluded, “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”  Four years later, a 204 meta-analysis of 32 separate studies prompted researchers to write, “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

“The role of trans fats in this discussion can’t be overemphasized,” said Coast’s Gustafson.  “Because trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, the Institute of Medicine recommends a trans fat intake as low as possible.  But not all trans fats are the same, and the new guidelines don’t go nearly far enough in making that clear.  Naturally occurring trans fats – that is, unsaturated fats found in foods derived from animals – are considered safe. These are sometimes confused with manufactured trans fats that are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, often dubbed ‘artificial trans fats.’”  In June 2015, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food, and need to be removed from processed foods by 2018.

“Because we believe that it’s vital for consumers to understand the difference between natural and artificial trans fats, we believe the USDA/HHS guidelines missed an opportunity to drive that point home,” Gustafson said.  “As a company and as consumers, we believe in natural, minimally processed food.  Consumers are wise to avoid industrially-produced partially hydrogenated fats in favor of animal fat-based ingredients, which have the benefit of being consistently delicious and, in moderation, actually promoting health.”