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FDA takes steps to eliminate trans fat

Companies, restaurants have been phasing trans fat out of menu items

JANESVILLE, Wis. - FDA takes steps to eliminate trans fat

The Food and Drug Administration is taking drastic steps to eliminate artery-clogging trans fats from food.

The FDA estimates eliminating trans fats from American's diets could save about 7,000 lives and prevent about 20,000 heart attacks every year.

"Our daily lunch specials would be like a burger with fries. We have chicken strips, shrimp baskets, a lot of deep fried. All of our appetizers are deep fried," Janet Murphy, manager of Charlie's Place in Janesville, said.

Charlie's Place has been serving up deep-fried food for 37 years, but an FDA proposal to ban trans fats would force them and others to make changes.

"The number one killer of both men and women in America is heart disease. That continues to rise, and we continue to see more and more people with it, and trans fat is a big player in that," registered dietitian Brittany Miller said.

Miller works at St. Mary's Janesville Hospital and said many trans fats are found in processed foods. She said they can be hard to spot on nutrition labels.

"If there's anything that says partially hydrogenated, any kind of oil or vegetable shortening, you don't want it because that means it contains trans fat," Miller said.

Many companies and restaurants have been phasing out trans fats over the last few years.

Miller said banning them is a step in the right direction.

"You can still have all the fried chicken, pizza and doughnuts that you want, but instead of having significantly artery-clogging fats in it, it will have less artery-clogging fat," said Miller.

If the FDA gets its way, Charlie's Place's famous Charlie burger might be cooked a little different, but the manager said they're open to change.

"I don't believe that changing the oil would change the taste of the food," Murphy said.

The Institute of Medicine said trans fats don't have any known health benefit and there's no safe level for consuming them. The FDA said it will take feedback on the new requirement for two months and then set a timeline for phasing them out.

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