Obama Administration Bans Artificial Trans Fats

The Food and Drug Administration announced it will phase out the oils almost entirely over the next three years.

In an effort to curtail heart disease, the Obama administration said Tuesday it's cracking down on artificial trans fats.

The Food and Drug Administration will require companies to phase out the partially hydrogenated oils almost entirely over the course of three years, calling them not "generally recognized as safe." The action comes a year and a half after the FDA first made that determination, in 2013.

"The FDA's action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency's commitment to the heart health of all Americans," Stephen Ostroff, the agency's acting commissioner, said. "This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year."

The move goes hand in hand with first lady Michelle Obama's push for healthy lifestyles, especially for young children. The ban boosts her signature "Let's Move!" initiative, which aims to curtail childhood obesity.

Though most trans fats have already been replaced by other oils over the past 10 years, the FDA said the ones that remain are a serious public health concern. This latest action will lower heart disease and prevent thousands of heart attacks each year, the administration said.

The fats, which are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, are often used by food companies to improve texture, shelf life, and flavor. But they can raise cholesterol levels and cause heart disease, and scientists say there are no health benefits to their use.