This week we learned that trans fats in processed foods are a lot like Blockbuster stores: they still exist, but probably not for long. Here’s what you need to know about that and all the health headlines:
The Food and Drug Administration has not banned trans fats – yet. But the agency really wants to rid the food supply of artificial fats that health experts say are artery-clogging killers. The stuff is still used in some baked goods, canned frostings, stick margarines, coffee creamers and microwave popcorns, but “there really is no safe level of consumption,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says. The public has 60 days to comment on a proposal that would remove trans fat from a list of ingredients “generally recognized as safe.” But consumers should expect any phase-out to take years and, meanwhile, keep reading labels for telltale signs of “partially hydrogenated oil.”
Federal health authorities also have their eyes on e-cigarettes. Manufacturers say these newfangled nicotine-delivery devices may be able to help smokers quit more dangerous conventional cigarettes. But the FDA is looking at ways to regulate them. And, in an interview with USA TODAY’s health staff this week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Thomas Frieden said he’s worried about their potential to hook kids on nicotine and turn them into smokers.