WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FDA is announcing Thursday that it will require the food industry to gradually phase out trans fats, saying they are a threat to people's health.

Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths.

Hamburg says that while the amount of trans fats in the American diet has declined dramatically in the last decade, they 'remain an area of significant public health concern.'

Trans fat is widely considered the worst kind of fat for your heart and is often found in processed foods, including some microwave popcorns and frozen pizzas, refrigerated doughs and ready-to-use frostings.

According to the FDA, manufacturers whose products contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving are allowed to declare 0 g trans fat per serving on the Nutrition Facts label.

The FDA stresses that trans fat won't be completely gone because it also occurs naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products. It is also present at very low levels in other edible oils, such as fully hydrogenated oils, where it is unavoidably produced during the manufacturing process.

The FDA says trans fats have been widely used as ingredients since the 1950s to increase the shelf-life and flavor stability of foods.

The agency isn't yet setting a timeline for the phase-out, but will collect comments for two months before officials determine how long it will take.

More from the FDA.

AP-WF-11-07-13 1513GMT

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