FDA to Require Trans Fat Labeling

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003

    Food manufacturers will have to include the amount of artery-clogging trans fatty acids on nutrition labels, according to a new FDA requirement. The new information will appear just below the saturated fat labeling. The new requirement does not go into effect until 2006. It is expected, however, to push manufacturers into reducing the levels of trans fats.

    Some scientists believe that trans fats are worse than saturated fats. Trans fats not only raise the level of low-density lipoproteins (?bad cholesterol?), but also may raise the level of triglycerides and may lower the level of high-density lipoproteins (?good cholesterol?). Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, solidifying it and increasing the shelf life of certain products. For example, products that contain partly hydrogenated oils or vegetable shortening may contain trans fats, as do many of the foods served at fast-food restaurants and casual-dining or family style restaurants.

    As for restaurants, nutrition labeling is not required. Some experts, however, believe that they may follow suit by lowering the levels of trans fats in their foods and providing information for their customers.

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