Trans fats are such a threat to global health that they’re now in the crosshairs of the World Health Organization: Reuters reports the WHO announced it would move to eliminate industrially produced trans fats by 2023, saying the move would save half a million lives a year. (Holy shit, I did not realize doughnuts were killing that many people.) As Vox explains, it’s the first time a global health organization has ever pledged to eliminate an ingredient from the worldwide food supply.
Trans fats are an especially harmful form of fat because they raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke. But damn if they’re not delicious, amiright? They’re also shelf-stable, useful in industrial frying machines, and lend texture to snack foods, making them popular in doughnuts, cakes, and fried foods.
The WHO plans a two-pronged approach to ridding our snacks of trans fats by 2023: promoting healthier options and legislating against harmful ingredients. Some countries (Denmark, Australia) and cities (New York City) have already banned the use of trans fats in food production, while others have banned partially hydrogenated oils used in the production of trans fats. Despite the health risks, trans fats remain an ingredient in many foods and frying oils used around the world.
The U.S. Food And Drug Administration in 2015 ordered food companies to nix trans fats from their products by 2018, so the WHO’s ban shouldn’t come as a shock to American companies. But removing them from countries where they’re more widespread could prove tricky. If you absolutely must have your trans-fat-packed doughnuts—eat at your own risk, friends—then start building that fried-food bunker now.