Why GRAS Is Making Headlines
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Why GRAS Is Making Headlines

And what it means for you

Why GRAS Is Making Headlines

Throughout June, the headlines including, "All US Trans Fats to Be Removed by 2018" and "FDA To Food Companies: This Time, Zero Means Zero Trans Fats" graced the internet. It is no secret that the FDA released an announcement on June 16th affirming that "partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not 'generally recognized as safe' or 'GRAS' for use in human food."

The removal of artificial trans fats in processed foods is a landmark event for health and an indicator of the FDA's authority.

The production of partially hydrogenated oils in food is not new. Paul Sabatier won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1912 for his method of hydrogenation. Meanwhile, Procter and Gamble introduced Crisco in 1911. The use of trans fats grew tremendously during the Great Depression because they were a less expensive substitute for butter and possessed several key qualities: they don’t spoil as easily as non-hydrogenated fats and they can endure heating without breaking down.

Trans fats were lauded as safe fats since they were made from vegetable products instead of saturated animal fats. Yet, despite the fact that scientists such as Fred Kummerow warned against the use of trans fats, their use grew through the 1900's.

In the 21st century, knowledge of the harmful effects of trans fats became more apparent. Many companies removed trans fats from their products. Now, over a century after the introduction of trans fats, the FDA is mandating their removal.

The ban demonstrates how government exerts its power for the health of the nation. From a single chemist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862, the FDA grew to approximately 15,000 employees and a budget of $4.4 billion in 2014. It is the epitome of a big government.

Before the FDA, foodborne infections--including typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and botulism--were widespread. Upton Sinclair's famous The Jungle captured the unsanitary practices of the food industry in 1906. The FDA responded with the original Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

The power of the FDA grew in 1957 with the Food Additives Amendment that required manufacturers of new food additives to establish safety and gave the first list of substances generally recognized as safe (GRAS). The list contains nearly 200 substances.

Removing partially hydrogenated oils from the GRAS list highlights how the government continues to improve safety with the help of new information. Other substances have been removed and even added back to the list including cyclamates and saccharin.

Food manufacturers have until 2018 to completely remove all partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This time frame allows for recipe reformulation and product development. In the meantime it is important to read food labels carefully— the FDA defines “zero” as less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. An ingredients list will show if a product contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Although the United States is behind several European countries that have already established bans on trans fats, the change will still have a tremendous impact on society.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Top 10 Reasons My School Rocks!

Why I Chose a Small School Over a Big University.

man in black long sleeve shirt and black pants walking on white concrete pathway

I was asked so many times why I wanted to go to a small school when a big university is so much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a big university is great but I absolutely love going to a small school. I know that I miss out on big sporting events and having people actually know where it is. I can't even count how many times I've been asked where it is and I know they won't know so I just say "somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin." But, I get to know most people at my school and I know my professors very well. Not to mention, being able to walk to the other side of campus in 5 minutes at a casual walking pace. I am so happy I made the decision to go to school where I did. I love my school and these are just a few reasons why.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments