updated 11/7/2013 5:18:35 PM ET 2013-11-07T22:18:35

Artificial trans fats in foods may soon be a thing of the past, according to a new announcement from the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency said today it has taken steps to move trans fat out of its current category of ingredients that are "generally recognized as safe," a move that, if finalized, could require the food industry to phase out the use of the ingredient.

Trans fat, or partially hydrogenated oil, has been linked with increased cholesterol levels, and a higher risk of coronary heart disease, the agency said. Reducing trans fat in foods could prevent 20,000 heart attack sand 7,000 death from heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [ 3 Tips for Eating Less Trans Fat ]

Since 2006, food companies have been required to list trans fat on their labels, and in recent years, many food companies and fast food restaurants have reduced trans fat in their products.

However, trans fats can still be found in some processed foods such as cookies, frozen pies, refrigerated dough and vegetable shortenings, the FDA said.

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