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The Impact and Consequences of Banning Trans Fatty Acids

wheat crackersTo many the proposed FDA rule to deny GRAS status to partially hydrogenated oil—and thereby in effect banning it from use—would be a great public health benefit. However, this proposed rule is not without consequences to many individuals, so it is critical that this decision is made carefully.

The FDA and others have stated that further decreases in trans fatty acid consumption could decrease thousands of cardiac events and deaths. These calculations of saving lives by further lowering trans fatty acid consumption assume that the biological effects of trans fatty acid follow a dose dependent linear response. Unfortunately, the pharmokinetics of the biological effects of trans fatty acids are difficult if not impossible to confirm since most studies that show adverse effects of trans fatty acids had to use dietary trans levels in excess of 5% of total energy. FDA has calculated that trans fatty acid consumption of partially hydrogenated oils has decreased from 4.6 g per day in 2003 to 1.3 g per day (2.1 to 0.6% of total energy) in 2010. It is very common for kinetics to not be linear especially at extremely low or high concentrations of bioactive agents. Therefore, it does not seem scientifically prudent to make a bold statement of how many deaths a food ingredient is causing without any clinical data. Keep Reading

Tools for Education, Career Advancement

CFS LogoA career in food science is an exciting and rapidly changing field with new discoveries occurring each day. In such a fast-paced industry, it’s important to keep up to date with the advancements in research, new product innovations, and the always-evolving regulations.

As a research scientist in a global company, I am asked to understand ingredient functionality in order to deliver nutritional products to our customers. My career has allowed me to work cross functionally with development teams to create products designed to help people live better lives through nutrition. To do this successfully, I have to keep informed on new food ingredients and trends so that our company can stay competitive in the marketplace. Keep Reading

Food Safety Suffers During U.S. Government Shutdown

U.S. Government ShutdownThe partial U.S. government shutdown, now in its second week, has already started affecting the operations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hardest hit are the FDA operations related to foods. Consequently, food importers, retailers, and consumers should be concerned.

The shutdown will have lesser effects, at least in the short-term, on the FDA divisions that deal with human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, and tobacco, as each of these divisions collects some type of user fees, giving those divisions a buffer when government funding is unavailable, as is the case during the shutdown. Keep Reading

Solutions to Food Waste for Manufacturers, Consumers

Food WasteFood waste is an issue that cannot be ignored as it accounts for over 10% of what we throw in the landfill. The common misnomer that I regularly hear is that it doesn’t matter since it will just biodegrade anyway, but this could not be further from the truth. Landfills are specifically designed to not let any of the waste breakdown to avoid the potential contamination of the adjacent lands, water, and air. So how can we, both manufacturers and consumers, have an impact and alleviate this problem? It’s as simple as following the age-old moniker that we all know—reduce, reuse, and recycle. Keep Reading

Next Steps on Arsenic and Rice

This blog was originally posted on FDAVoice on September 12, 2013.

On Sept. 6, FDA announced the results of testing 1,300 samples of arsenic in rice and rice products and found that the arsenic levels in rice do not present an immediate or short-term health risk. As we said last week, the next step is to assess the potential health risk from long-term exposure to the arsenic in rice and foods made with this grain.

And that is where my job starts. I am a scientist at FDA and I’d like to explain the scientific legwork that will be done over the next few months by some of the most preeminent arsenic experts in the country. Keep Reading

Storytelling for Scientists

I had the chance to spend four days at the 2013 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo® with the Lead360 cohort, a group of emerging leaders from 20+ countries. It was an inspiring group of young professionals from universities, industry, and government agencies. One of the themes that emerged from our conversations was the need for effective communication, sharing with others what we do and how we can contribute to society. Keep Reading

Farm Bill Outlook Uncertain: The Beginning or the End?

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill, November 1942

On Tuesday, June 11, the Senate passed S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, by a vote of 66 to 27. Although there were 260 amendments filed to the bill, only a few dozen were actually considered. This agreement also precluded Democrats and Republicans from crafting a package of amendments that could be made to the bill prior to final passage.

Farm bill action moved to the House the week of June 16. The House bill had savings in the food stamp program of $20 billion over the next 10 years, up from $16 billion in last year’s bill. On Thursday, June 21, the House voted to defeat the farm bill by a vote of 195 to 234 for the first time in history. It was the victim of continued divisions over food stamp cuts and the shape of future agriculture subsidies. Keep Reading

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