Deciphering the FDA’s New Actions on Partially Hydrogenated Oils

As we navigate the ever-evolving world of food safety and standards, the FDA’s recent decisions regarding partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) have come to the forefront. As champions of consumer safety and advocates for informed choices, we at Onderlaw see these new decisions as a progressive step toward a healthier future for all Americans.

The Context: What are PHOs and Why Should We Care?

PHOs are industrially produced fats that have been a staple in the food industry for decades. They are cheap to produce and extend the shelf life of food products. However, numerous scientific studies have linked the consumption of PHOs to increased risks of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. This is primarily because they are a primary dietary source of artificial trans fats, which can increase harmful LDL cholesterol and lower beneficial HDL cholesterol.

FDA’s Decision on PHOs

On August 8, the FDA issued a direct final rule that brought monumental changes in the use of PHOs in foods:

  1. Recognition of Health Risks: Back in 2015, the FDA determined that PHOs are no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). Fast forward to now, the FDA is taking assertive measures by revoking their use in various food items.
  2. Changes in Food Standards: Two significant standards affected are peanut butter and canned tuna, where PHOs can no longer be used as an ingredient. It’s worth noting the significance of this. Imagine: something as universally consumed as peanut butter had, until now, contained an ingredient that is no longer considered safe!
  3. Revised Regulations: The rule makes clear distinctions, notably for menhaden oil and rapeseed oil, which will no longer include their partially hydrogenated forms. Additionally, hydrogenated fish oil has been deleted as a GRAS indirect food substance.
  4. Revoking Previous Sanctions: Based on new evidence that PHOs may be detrimental to health, FDA has revoked the pre-1958 authorization for the use of PHOs in staples like margarine, shortening, bread, rolls, and buns.

Why This Matters

The FDA’s actions represent a necessary paradigm shift towards prioritizing public health over commercial interests. With the increasing availability and use of PHO alternatives, there is a clear move toward healthier ingredients in our food.

Furthermore, by issuing these amendments directly as a final rule, the FDA highlights the urgency and noncontroversial nature of these changes, given the inherent public health risks associated with PHOs.

Your Voice Matters

The FDA, in its commitment to transparency, is accepting public comments on both the direct final and proposed rules. We urge everyone to participate and share their thoughts. This is an opportunity for consumers to be heard and for the collective voice to echo the importance of such health-centric regulations.


The recent FDA’s move on PHOs underscores a broader theme: that consumer health and well-being should always be paramount. At Onderlaw, we strongly endorse such decisive actions that prioritize the health of the public over any commercial interests. As the FDA continues its mission to protect public health, it is essential that we, as consumers, remain informed and make choices that align with our well-being. If you or a loved one have been affected by corporate negligence and greed, contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.