As of June 18, trans fats are banned from U.S. restaurants and grocery stores. Food manufacturers have had three years to phase out the ingredient, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled unsafe to eat in 2015. According to the Washington Post, nutrition researchers and public health advocates long ago found artificial trans fats, a modified form of vegetable oil, raised “bad” cholesterol and contributed to heart disease.
Initially used to extend shelf life and improve the texture of processed foods in the 1950s and 60s, researchers began to link artificial trans fats to cholesterol and heart disease in the 1990s. As the scientific consensus grew, the FDA required food companies to disclose artificial trans fats on product labels in January 2006. Then, in 2015, the agency ruled that artificial trans fats are not safe in food and set a June 2018 deadline for their removal from the food system. Between 2015—when the ban was first announced—and 2018, food companies have removed 98% of trans fats from the food supply.
There is now concern over the ingredients that are being used to replace trans fats in formulations. For example, some environmental groups have raised concerns that food companies are using palm oil, which contributes to deforestation. There has also been concern that food manufacturers might boost the flavor and texture of newly reformulated products by increasing the fat content overall.