January 9, 2011

"Trans Fat Free?" Maybe Not!

Just when I started feeling better about eliminating trans fat from my diet, I find that I might be a victim of "deceptive advertising."

Did you know that a "zero trans fat" label (an FDA approved label too) might mean .4 grams of this potentially harmful stuff from processed foods? Is that a significant amount of it? It could be when you consider that 1.11 grams of trans fat per day might lead you to some serious health problems.

So how did 0 = .4? A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine student Eric Brandt just published some surprising news in the January/February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. It seems that the FDA's current labeling policy is somewhat wacky.

According to Brandt's article, "Current law requires that fat content of greater than five grams be listed in one gram increments, less than five grams be listed in .5 gram increments, and lower than .5 grams as containing zero grams of fat. Meaning, if a product has .49 grams of trans fat, the label can list the trans fat content as zero, thus masking a significant amount of trans fat that can exceed recommended limits and potentially lead to various adverse health effects."

Therefore, it would be very easy to exceed the recommended limit of 1.11 grams of that nasty stuff if your diet contained a lot of processed foods. Is that a big deal? Yes, when you consider that increasing daily trans fat from two grams to 4.67 grams will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 percent.

Looks like the FDA has another big job to add to its plate. Otherwise, the FDA will continue to mislead the public, and food manufacturers will get away with "No Trans Fat" when that might not be the case.