The American Heart Association applauded recent steps taken by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to encourage the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to accelerate the development of regulations to protect Americans from sudden cardiac arrest deaths in the workplace and to improve food labelling requirements by including trans fatty acid content information, the organisation commented in a recent statement. The regulatory call to action came as John D. Graham, director of OMB's office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, sent the agency's first-ever "prompt letters" to both agencies urging them to take specific regulatory action aimed at reducing the number of potential deaths from coronary heart disease. In one letter, the OMB urges OSHA to consider the benefits of life-saving automated external defibrillators in the private-sector workplace, citing scientific evidence from the American Heart Association and other groups on the effectiveness of the devices. A second letter urges HHS to accelerate an ongoing rulemaking which would require food labels to include the trans fatty acid content, long a priority for the Association. "We are pleased that the OMB has chosen two priorities of the American Heart Association to inaugurate its new policy of prompting federal agencies to develop new regulations or accelerate existing rulemaking procedures," said David Faxon, M.D., American Heart Association President. "If acted upon, both of these proposals will truly save many lives." In his trans fat letter to HHS, Graham pointed out that the FDA had estimated earlier that the labelling change would prevent between 7,600 to 17,100 heart attack cases, averting 2,500 to 5,600 deaths per year within 10 years after the rule became effective. Trans fats are made through the process of hydrogenation that solidifies liquid oils, thereby increasing the shelf life of processed foods containing these oils. Trans fat is found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies and other snack foods. Last year, a study released at an American Heart Association dietary conference on fatty acids, said that trans fat intake is likely to change when manufacturers reformulate some products in response to consumer demand for lower trans fat foods as a result of the proposed label change. "Deaths from heart attacks could dramatically be reduced as a result of the proposed change in food labels to reflect the amount of trans fatty acid in processed food, " said Faxon. "OMB's urging to the Department of Health and Human Services is definitely a step in the right direction. The American public needs the opportunity to make informed, healthy decisions about the foods they buy and eat."