The news is promising, the FDA has taken the first step in ridding the food supply of trans fats! Trans fats are one of the only food items I’ve put in the “never eat” list (as opposed to sometimes or always foods) so in my mind, this is a big step forward. As it is, once manufacturers were required to include amounts on food labels there was a drop in the amount used in processed foods. This drop was fantastic, as was the new ease for consumers in seeing total trans fats listed right on the label BUT there was still a loophole!
The loophole in labeling allows products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to state 0% trans fat on the label. What’s the big deal? There are several problems with this workaround. The first has to do with serving sizes; is the serving size listed on the label the same amount that you would actually consume as a portion? If you would in reality consume four times the amount shown on the label, you need to multiply all of the numbers on the label by four. On top of this, how many different products might you consume in a day that contain little bits of trans fats? All of those small amounts add up. Lastly, there is no safe level of consumption for trans fats, they raise LDL cholesterol levels, and are linked to heart disease. Since one out of every four deaths in the US is from heart disease, this is no laughing matter.
Does this mean that all processed foods are now okay to eat with abandon? Well no, you will still need to put some thought into the foods you put into your mouth. This is just one more step in the right direction. For more on this new ruling, check out some articles from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and CNN.