For years, I ignored the little packet of saltines I got whenever I ate soup at a diner. I didn’t want to eat them because they were made with margarine, or to be more precise, partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is a food ingredient made from a synthetic chemical, a trans fat, that for a quarter century has been linked to cell wall breakdown and inflammatory diseases generally. Now that dietary risk is fading as trans fats are phased out of the U.S. food supply. For the first time that I can remember, my diner crackers were made without any trans fat ingredients.
When the FDA announced the phase-out of trans fats, it said the change wouldn’t affect much of the food you eat. They intentionally exaggerated the progress that had already been made in order to downplay the impact of the policy change. In truth, nearly half of the food in restaurants would have to be reformulated slightly, a process that is still not so far along. But the transition has reached the packet of saltines, at least.