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CVS removes artificial trans fats from its food brands

Feb 22 (Reuters) - CVS Health Corp said its pharmacy chain had removed artificial trans fats, which have been linked to rising rates of heart diseases, from its store-branded food products well ahead of a June 2018 federal deadline.

The second-largest U.S. pharmacy chain said it started offering more than 600 snack and grocery options without partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary source of artificial trans fats in processed foods, since January.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in June 2015 that PHOs were not "generally recognized as safe" for use in human food and gave food manufacturers three years to remove PHOs from products.

German-owned grocery retailer Aldi said in 2015 it removed PHOs, synthetic colors and added-MSG (monosodium glutamate) from its store-branded food products in the United States.

CVS said on Wednesday it was moving healthier foods to the front of its stores and would dedicate roughly a quarter of front checkout space to "better-for-you" snacks.

The company is also rolling out its CVS Health brand, a flagship line of more than 2,500 health and wellness products, in its stores nationwide.

CVS said it planned to tag shelves with labels such as "heart healthy" and "gluten free" to make it easier for shoppers to find products fitting nutritional and dietary preferences.

(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)