U.S. requires food labels to list trans fat

July 15, 2003 in Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition Topics in the News

U.S. requires food labels to list trans fat
All packaged foods sold across America will have to carry labels telling people how much artery-clogging trans-fats they contain under new U.S. government regulations issued last week. Trans-fatty acids are a component of fat and are found in all animal fats, from meat to butter. They are also made synthetically when food processors harden fat to make it more stable in a process called hydrogenation. Found in meat, milk, cookies and fries, trans-fats raise cholesterol, especially \\\"bad\\\" or LDL cholesterol and lowers the good, HDL cholesterol.

While food labels warn consumers about saturated fats, which also raise cholesterol, there is currently no way to know for sure whether a food contains trans-fats.
The new requirement, which takes effect as of January 2006, comes a year after government advisers at the Institute of Medicine recommended it.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has been pressing for labels, said the move \\\"will spur companies to reformulate products and to let consumers know how much of this dangerous and heretofore hidden fat is in packaged foods.\\\" \\\"It will be hard, though, for people to tell if a given number of grams of trans-fat is a lot or a little. Five grams may not seem like a lot, but it is,\\\" they say.

No scientific findings are available to use in recommending a set level of trans-fats in the diet. People should simply aim to eat as little as possible, he said, and should look for words such as \\\"saturated\\\" and \\\"hydrogenated\\\" on labels. The rule does not apply to restaurants at this time. Manufacturers have already begun making foods without trans-fats, including some soft margarines, cookies, crackers and other products.

Note: Canada�s new and improved food labels will list grams of trans fat. The new labels were made law on January 1, 2003 and will be fully implemented by 2006.

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