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U.S. Moves to Cut Health Risks from Trans Fats in Food

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

Food safety agencies in the United States have launched an effort to end the use of partially hydrogenated oils. These oils are the main cause of "trans fats" in some processed foods. Health officials say the use of trans fats in food products is possibly harmful and can lead to health conditions that can turn deadly. Many of the foods made with trans fats are American favorites. They include cookies and other baked goods, such as cakes, pies and pastries. They are thought of as comfort food.

Lisa Martin is a heart specialist at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She says published reports have shown that trans fats block the flow of blood in the arteries and can lead to serious health problems. She says some of the reports have linked small increases of trans fat in the diet to an increased risk of developing heart disease.

The United States' Food and Drug Administration says some food manufacturers and other businesses have already cut trans fat levels in their products. But the FDA says a further reduction could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks each year and 7,000 deaths from heart disease.

FDA food safety director Dennis Keefe says studies on the possible health benefits show why trans fats should not be used in food. Man-made trans fats have been used in restaurants and in processed foods to improve the quality, taste and storage time of foods. But Mr. Keefe says a growing number of food manufacturers are finding other substances to use instead of trans fats. Americans have 60 days to comment on the FDA proposal for ending the use of partly hydrogenated oils before the rule become law.