Yesterday, the FDA announced that by 2018, the food industry must remove trans fat from all products. I welcomed the news.
Today, The Washington Post profiles the 100-year-old scientist who has been in the fight to ban trans fat from American diets for decades. His name is Fred Kummerow, and he first published his research warning about the dangers of artery-clogging trans fats in 1957.
In the 1990s, more and more studies had shown that trans fats were a key culprit in the rising rates of heart disease. The advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest also petitioned the FDA in 1994 to require that the substance be listed on nutrition labels — a move that the agency put into place in 2006. In 2002, the Institute of Medicine found that there was “no safe level of trans fatty acids and people should eat as little of them as possible.” As the dangers of trans fat became clearer, public opinion also shifted, and food companies increasingly removed the substance from products, though it remained in a broad range of foods, from cake frostings to baked goods.
Four years after filing his petition and hearing nothing, Kummerow sued the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013, with the help of a California law firm. The suit asked a judge to compel the agency to respond to Kummerow’s petition and “to ban partially hydrogenated oils unless a complete administrative review finds new evidence for their safety.”
Related: worth exploring is Kummerow’s book Cholesterol is Not the Culprit: A Guide to Preventing Heart Disease.