Environmentalists fear FDA trans-fat ban

Despite a ban last week by the Food and Drug Administration to outlaw artificial trans fats, environmentalists are concerned the move could have unintended consequences. According to National Journal, manufacturers could instead turn to palm oil as a replacement for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs – aka trans fats). It is not only inexpensive but also plentiful and can be used to recreate many of the qualities in foods seen with trans fats at present like flakey pie crust.

Palm oil is manufactured in palm plantations that can result in deforestation and the farms have been linked to human rights abuses such as child labor. Increased use of palm oil means increased deforestation and that has environmentalists concerned, though they aren’t opposed to the trans fat ban either. National Journal reveals that when the FDA required manufacturers to label trans fats on food products in 2006 palm oil imports spiked around 60 percent. At the same time the palm oil industry was expanding its product appeal because it was getting cheaper. Sun flower, canola oil and hydrogenated oils maybe alternatives but apparently palm oil is the best substitute for trans fats. Environmentalists can work on certifying responsible palm oil farms but it will not detract from the fact that palm oil will be the product of choice.

So there you have it. Environmentalists don’t oppose banning trans fats but don’t like the alternative that manufacturers can replace it with. I guess in this case greens will be forced to make a trade off like the average person does every day. However, since trans fats are linked to heart disease I am sure opposing trans fat bans is the route they will go since consuming trans fats can result in more instances of heart disease and that means fewer humans dying from heart-related illness.