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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Sonali Gunawardhana Comments on FDA’s Proposal to Ban Trans Fats

November 8, 2013

Sonali P. Gunawardhana, an attorney in Wiley Rein’s Food & Drug Law Practice, was interviewed by Politico for a November 7 article regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods—should no longer be considered safe and should be removed from the food supply.

Health officials point to statistics compiled over the last several years that have identified trans fats as a major contributor to heart disease, and because of this the FDA is seeking to eliminate their use by food manufacturers.  The FDA has opened a 60-day comment period on its initial proposal in order to collect additional data that PHOs are not generally recognized as safe for use in food and to gain input on the time needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fats.

Ms. Gunawardhana—a former top FDA attorney—responded to the proposal, saying, “There are a handful of foods out there that can’t get around it. They’ve known for a while that this is a problem.  I think the agency is being conservative in their approach and they want to be collaborative.”

“It will be dependent on what industry says they can do,” she added. “The bottom line is that reformulation takes time.”