Betty Crocker and Popeyes have 3 years to comply with FDA trans fat ban

trans fats
Betty Crocker biscuits and Jiffy Pop will have to get rid of their trans fat too.

Trans fats will soon be extinct on supermarket shelves.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday declared trans fats unsafe for human consumption and told food companies to get rid of them by June, 2018.

This affects some of the most popular food brands in America. Advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest identifies these products on its "trans fat wall of shame":
- Betty Crocker Bisquick biscuits
- Fleischmann's margarine stick
- Duncan Hines whipped chocolate frosting
- Jiffy Pop pop corn
- Popeyes onion rings and Cajun fries

- Pepperidge Farm coconut layer cake

The FDA ruling on the heart-clogging ingredient has been a long time coming. Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are prized by food companies and fast food chains for their solid consistency, which are useful for baking pie crusts and croissants, and also for giving products an extended shelf life.

"It's more stable," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the CSPI. "It doesn't go rancid as quickly as a solid fat."

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Jacobsen said oil might get pies into a "a soggy mess." Fat or lard would also do the job, he said, but they're not as cheap.

The FDA was unmoved by such culinary concerns when it declared trans fats as "no longer generally recognized as safe under any condition of use in human food."

Companies, such as Pepsico (PEP), have already been phasing them out from snacks and other foods for years, especially since the FDA started requiring warning labels and health-conscious consumers started to shun them after studies identified them as a source of heart disease.

The FDA estimates the trans fat consumption dropped by 78% between 2003 and 2012.

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The Betty Crocker and Bisquick brands are produced by General Mills (GIS). Company spokeswoman Kirstie Foster said her company has already been "working diligently" to get rid of the trans fats from many of their other products.

Foster said that work is underway to get rid of them in all the products and that already, "more than 95% of our U.S. retail products are already labeled zero grams trans fat."

ConAgra (CAG), known for such brands as Chef Boyardee, Slim Jim, Swiss Miss and Reddiwip, also said it was phasing out trans fats.

"We began our transition away from partially hydrogenated oils nearly a decade ago, and have removed the vast majority from our foods," said ConAgra spokeswoman Monique Farmer.

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Unlike General Mills and ConAgra, which use trans fats for baking, Popeyes uses them for frying, as a cheap alternative to soy bean or canola oil. Popeyes online menu currently identifies the presence of trans fats in 20 of its products.

But Popeyes (PLKI) said, in a prepared statement, that its days of trans fats are numbered: "Popeyes has always been in compliance with FDA guidelines and today we are happy to say that by January 2016, we will have zero trans fats on our menu."

Just last month, Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands (YUM), also said it will be removing trans fats from its food. Yum said it has already removed trans fats from all cooking oils. A few baked goods have under 1/2 a gram of trans fats, which it will also remove soon.

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-- Cristina Alesci contributed to this report.

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