The FDA has been petitioned to finalise its November 1999 proposal that food manufacturers must reveal the presence of so-called “phantom fat” in processed foods. It has also been slammed for proposing to group trans fats with saturated fats on product labels.

Based in Washington DC, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has campaigned on the issue since 1994 and sent a letter to the FDA on Wednesday demanding consumers be made aware of the trans fats in their foods.

Created when vegetable oils are processed to make them more stable and solid, trans fats are widely used as a popular alternative to saturated fats, and are found in margarine, baked goods and processed foods.

According to several new scientific studies however, trans fat might result in similar consequences for health as saturated fats, and CSPI executive director Dr. Michael Jacobson argued in the letter that labelling them in a food product might save between 2,100 to 5,600 consumers from heart disease every year.

“Considering how many lives labelling of trans fat could save annually and the overwhelmingly favourable cost/benefit ratio, we respectfully urge you to take prompt action to ensure that trans fats are labelled,” the letter continues.

The FDA declined to comment on any pending regulation or the trans fat petition.