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trans fat information and articles:

what are trans fats?

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trans fat labeling

learn how to read labels for trans fats

what is hydrogenation?

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The FDA and trans fat on food labels

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that all food products sold after January of 2006 must have their trans fat content disclosed on the label. Prior to that date, food products do not have to indicate the amount of trans fatty acid they contain.

So, what does the change in labeling mean to the average consumer? If you are worried about trans fat in your diet, the only way to tell if a food product contains it is to look at the ingredient list. In general, if a food contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil, it contains trans fat. On an ingredients list, the foods are listed from largest amounts to smallest. So, the closer the ingredients are to the top of the list, the more of that ingredient the food uses. However, there is no way to see the exact number of grams of trans fat that a food contains.

The new ruling changes this situation. Starting in 2006, all products sold in the United States must have labels that list the number of trans fat grams per serving. Since the labeling is done by serving, it will still be possible for a product to contain trans fats (in the forms of fully or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening) and be labeled as having zero grams of trans fat. This is because any foods with less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving may legally place 0 grams of trans fat on the label. So, some things that have small amounts of trans fatty acids will appear to be trans fat free. This is important to note for anyone trying to completely eliminate trans fat; you will want to check the number of trans fat grams listed on the label, but you should still check the ingredient list for some of the tell-tale items like partially hydrogenated shortening or partially hydrogenated oil.

Despite this loophole, the labeling rule is definitely a step in the right direction and will help consumers make better choices about the foods they eat and the fats they contain.

Learn how to read the new labels for trans fat information...


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