• Katie Chung Hua

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

My sister called me and said her husband, who’s going to medical school, came home from class and said “we are never eating hydrogenated oils again!” This is something I’ve been telling her about for years. That made me think that most people won’t stop eating this crap until they are educated on it.



“In 2015, FDA released its final determination that Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) are not Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). The determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from stakeholders during the public comment period.” That is taken directly from FDA’s website themselves. Mic Drop.


Partially Hydrogenated Oils is just one of the many dangerous ingredients that are commonly used in the production of food, particularly in our country. So what is it?

Hydrogenation is the when oil is combined with hydrogen to turn a liquid into a solid. So why we need to turn liquid into solid? It’s cost effective. lt increases shelf life and flavor stability, so companies’ product can last longer.


What happens when we consume PHOs? PHOs contain trans fatty acids, so by consuming these oils it increases LDL cholesterol, which is a major risk factor in coronary heart disease. FDA stated that elimination of such oils, “could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year” and Center of Disease Control said if you completely take out PHOs, 10,000 to 20,000 coronary events would disappear along with 3,000 to 7,000 coronary deaths each year. In a report published by the Federal Register, there is evidence that fetuses and breastfeeding infants of mothers who consume trans fat could be at risk for impaired growth. There’s also risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, memory loss, depression, and cancer.


Why are we still eating it? Lack of education or awareness? Yes. Majority of people don’t know what is bad for them. We all know to cut sugar and soda, but there’s so many process ingredients in our food we have no idea about. Not to mention there’s also loop holes on ingredient labels. When it comes fat, technically, food manufacturers can list 0g of trans or unsaturated fats in their foods as long as the amount is smaller than 1g.

I should also address there is a FULLY hydrogenated oil that doesn't contain trans fat so its assumed to be “healthier”, but remember it's still chemically processed.


The good news is that FDA announced that manufactures cannot add PHOs to foods after January 1, 2020. Until then, check your labels and stay away from ALL types of partially and fully hydrogenated oils.


You can find products that contain PHOs on the dry shelves, in the refrigerated section, children's food, and more. Here are a few examples:

  • Ritz or any type of cracker that claiming it has a ‘buttery’ taste

  • Frozen Meals

  • Coffee Creamer

  • Cake Mixes and Frosting

  • Packaged Cookies

  • Microwave popcorn

  • Fried Foods

  • Shortening

  • Margarine

  • Refrigerated Dough

References:

Tentative Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (2013, Nov 11)

Retrieved from:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2013/11/08/2013-26854/tentative-determination-regarding-partially-hydrogenated-oils-request-for-comments-and-for

Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (2018, May 18).

Retrieved from:

https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm449162.htm