All food products containing partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) were banned from being sold in stores in the US starting January 1st, 2021:

To allow for time for reformulation, the agency is extending until June 18, 2019 the compliance date to stop manufacturing foods with these specific, limited petitioned uses of PHOs, and until Jan. 1, 2021 for these products to work their way through distribution. [1]

Yet I still see products containing PHOs being sold at grocery stores all the time. How is this possible?

Some guesses:

  • Has the FDA updated the deadline again?
  • Are manufacturers and stores not complying will the FDA rules (and somehow avoiding penalties)?
  • Is this ban not being enforced?

If you live in the US, you can see this for yourself at your local grocery store by looking for "partially hydrogenated oils" in the ingredient list of pastries, doughs, spreads, cookies, and crackers.

  • 2
    Are you sure these products really contain partially hydrogenated oils? Note that fully hydrogenated oils remain legal. May 8, 2022 at 18:45
  • The ingredient lists on the products I've seen in the stores show "partially hydrogenated oils." I'll take a picture of a few next time I'm at the store and add them to the question if that helps verify.
    – Patrick
    May 9, 2022 at 0:12
  • 2
    Also, they weren't literally "banned"; instead, their "generally recognized as safe" status was revoked. It left open the possibility for a manufacturer to use them if they could provide evidence of their safety in a particular application; basically just shifting the burden of proof. I don't know whether that has actually happened, but it's one possible explanation. May 9, 2022 at 0:50
  • Agreed that the classification changed in 2015. But this quote from the FDA webpage I linked to in the question seems to say they were banned: "For the majority of uses of PHOs, June 18, 2018, remains the date after which manufacturers cannot add PHOs to foods."
    – Patrick
    May 9, 2022 at 3:36
  • 2
    Could the label be referring to naturally occurring PHO?
    – DJohnM
    May 10, 2022 at 20:39


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