The most surprising point from this news below is that partially hydroenated oil is already known for its harmful effects on health, and still the government agencies overseeing public health are giving corporations with big bucks till next year for listing their oil contents so that public knows the truth, albeit too late for many.
Most people who pay attention to their diets know that partially hydrogenated oil contains trans fat that clogs the arteries and reduces the "good" cholesterol that helps unclog them. Beginning next year, companies must disclose trans-fat amounts on food labels. But it is already clear that the Food and Drug Administration is going to have to do more to protect the public from heart-threatening fats.
One problem, detailed in a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is that some companies that don't use trans fat nevertheless use other dangerous oils. Other companies, searching for trans-fat alternatives, are turning to unhealthy fats. The most popular is palm oil, a saturated fat that is widely believed to promote heart disease and whose main distinction is that it is less harmful than trans fat.
Some companies that make products with palm oil, including Newman's Own Organics popcorn and cookies, emphasize on their packages that their products are trans-fat free and note the relative advantage of palm oil over trans fat. But all this does is create the false impression that palm oil is good for you. The F.D.A. should act quickly to stop labels that could mislead consumers. The agency should also encourage the use of healthier alternatives like certain safflower and sunflower oils and promising new blends.
The ultimate aim, however, should be to end the widespread use of partially hydrogenated oils. As things now stand, the F.D.A. acknowledges that trans fats are unhealthy at any level, and yet maintains that the partially hydrogenated oils that contain them are basically safe. The agency can't have it both ways. Public health would be greatly improved if the F.D.A. prohibited their use.