The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday morning its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oil is no longer generally recognized as safe for use in food.
The move paves the way for a ban, or at the very least, strict limits on the fake fats, which are the primary source of artificial trans fats in one's diet.
Artificial trans fats are formed when food makers turn liquid oils into solid fats in a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases a food's shelf life, but the science shows it also pumps the body full of artery-clogging fat.
Although the agency said that the average consumption of trans fats has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012, FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement that further reduction would prevent more than 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 new cases of coronary heart disease each year.
Many food manufacturers have already taken steps to strip their products of artificial trans fats. But according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, hydrogenated culprits still linger in the American diet.