Industry backs 3-year PHOs phase-out but criticizes GRAS revoke

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Industry 'concerned' and 'disappointed' on FDA's decision to go down GRAS revoke route for trans fat ban
Industry 'concerned' and 'disappointed' on FDA's decision to go down GRAS revoke route for trans fat ban

Related tags Partially hydrogenated oils Trans fat

Bakery and snack makers have welcomed the FDA’s three-year period to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) but have criticized its strategy to revoke GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.

The long-awaited determination was filed yesterday​; ruling PHOs were no longer GRAS and must be removed from the food supply within a three-year compliance period.

Timings welcomed

The American Bakers Association (ABA) said the three-year period would enable an “orderly transition” ​– something that had been strongly recommended by industry.

“This action provides bakers and other food makers adequate time to further formulate to other, healthier alternatives as well as address a number of practical challenges including packaging changes and availability,”​ it said in a statement.

“ABA and its members are appreciative that FDA recognizes the complexity of this issue.”

Lee Sanders, senior vice president of government relations and public affairs for ABA, told ABA’s Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee (FTRAC) would meet this week to “review the final determination and strategize on next steps”.

She previously told this site bakers had already come a long way in trans fat removal​ but complete removal was not going to happen overnight, particularly in light of alternative supplies being limited.

The Snack Food Association (SFA) agreed a good transition time was vital.

“[Our members] will require time and direction from FDA to eliminate the small amount of remaining PHOs in the snack food industry,”​ it said.

GRAS tactic a concern

However, the SFA added it was concerned about the FDA’s approach to regulating artificial trans fats.

“Our members are concerned that FDA did not go through the rule making process, given the departure from their historical approach to determining whether and at what level an ingredient is ‘generally recognized as safe’.”

The ABA agreed, suggesting the GRAS revoke path meant valuable feedback had been missed.

“ABA is disappointed that FDA chose a novel approach to address partially hydrogenated oils through a GRAS determination instead of a more appropriate formal rulemaking that requires thorough economic, environmental and small business impact analyses. Short changing the regular rulemaking process deprived FDA of critically important stakeholder feedback and data collection.”

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