Look out for hidden trans fat in trans fat-free food

Feb 15, 2011

Think twice before you bust open that bag of chips-you could be eating more trans fat than you think, thanks to a loophole in FDA food labeling laws.

As far as fats go, are considered among the worst dietary dangers. Studies have linked the substance to elevated cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

But current regulations have a loose definition of "zero," allowing companies to tout foods containing less than 0.5 grams as "trans fat free." So a product with 0.49 grams of trans fat can be rounded down to zero on the label, meaning consumers could easily exceed the daily recommended value of 1.11 grams of trans fat despite their best efforts to avoid them, according to Case Western Reserve University medical student researcher Eric Brandt.

In an article published in the January/February issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, Brandt calls on the FDA to revise its policies so that labels more accurately reflect trans .

In the meantime, the best way to avoid trans fat is to check the ingredient list for "partially hydrogenated" and "hydrogenated" oils, Brandt says.

Explore further: Digesting bread and pasta can release biologically active molecules

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User comments : 10

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1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2011
Yah this is what happens when we give Government a monopoly on distributing food safety information: they screw it up just as badly as they screw up EVERYTHING they touch.
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
well, jscroft, I have started thinking that this screwing up of everything they touch applies more to the US government than others.

Of course some other countries have other *issues* such as perhaps less personal freedom or something else. But unfortunately this is by far not the only law with loopholes in this country.
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 15, 2011
Interesting that you consider less personal liberty an "issue", indicating irony. Do you NOT consider that an issue?

I would far rather be ruled by a semi-competent government that mostly leaves me alone, than by a hyper-competent government that makes every aspect of my business ITS business.

The problem is not that this law has loopholes. The problem is that this law exists AT ALL, thus arrogating to a central authority the regulation of Self that is "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2011
Not long ago the food police were promoting trans-fats to replace natural fats like lard, coconut oil and beef fat.
French fries in beef fat were the best. Tortillas and pie crusts made with lard are the best. And coconut oil IS quite healthy for you.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2011
Setting aside paranoia and unprovable beliefs about governments, while you can argue about the exact allowed amount, it turns out that there are not completely insignificant amounts of transfats naturally found in foods, so setting the limit at zero is a non starter.
not rated yet Feb 16, 2011
Hydrogenated oils are man-made.
I blame corporate lobbiest buying off legislators as well as the legislators themselves for this lack of consumer protection. Trusting corporate greed-heads to police themselves is a joke.
1 / 5 (3) Feb 16, 2011
Hydrogenated oils are man-made.
I blame corporate lobbiest buying off legislators as well as the legislators themselves for this lack of consumer protection. Trusting corporate greed-heads to police themselves is a joke.

Then don't buy products you suspect of having transfats.
If there are enough of you to make a difference an private company like NSF will certify products transfat free with no govt involvement.
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 16, 2011
Hydrogenated oils are man-made.
I blame corporate lobbiest buying off legislators as well as the legislators themselves for this lack of consumer protection. Trusting corporate greed-heads to police themselves is a joke.

Trusting people in government to act in citizens' interests is a joke.

The game works this way. Politicians say the need to "regulate" an industry for some reason (e.g., to protect the consumer). Then government essentially controls the industry. Companies then send in bribes (I mean campaign cash) to get favors from government (restrictions on competition, subsidies, etc.) or to avoid being on the wrong end of legislation (restricting their ability to do business or worse). Who's doing the stealing here - it's the politicians, not so much the corporations.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2011
Ryggesong2, I partially agree with your answer; I don't buy anything that contains partially hydrogenated oil (this is what I look for, not trans fat). Consequently, I forgo 98 percent of all pastries, candy, some breads etc., I couldn't even buy my wife Valentine's Day chocolate. The key is educating the consumers, a huge task. It is because the FDA didn't allow thalidomide that the US was spared the tradgedy that happened in France of so many babies born with flippers for limbs. This type of government control I welcome.
1 / 5 (3) Feb 17, 2011
the FDA didn't allow thalidomide

The FDA has allowed new medical devices that are not working properly.
The most trustworthy advisors for such things are the companies that sell the products or the insurance companies that have to pay for the lawsuits.
That's how UL, NSF and IIHS, and others, have improved product quality and safety much more efficiently than a govt agency.
A govt bureaucrat has no incentive not to fail. If they fail, they claim they need more money and no one is fired. A govt bureaucracy is rewarded when they DO fail as they get more money and more power.

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