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FDA Proposes Adding Trans Fat Category to Nutrition Labels.

FDA proposed to amend its regulations on nutrition labeling to require that the amount of trans fatty acids in a food be included in the Nutrition Facts panel. Included in this proposal is a new nutrient content claim defining "trans fat free" and a limit on trans fatty acids wherever there are limits on saturated fat in nutrient content claims or health claims. Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, are made through the process of hydrogenation that solidifies liquid oils. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of these oils and foods that contain them. Trans fat is found in vegetable shortenings, and in some margarine, crackers, cookies, french fries and other foods.

FDA based its proposal on recent studies that indicate consumption of trans fatty acids contributes to increased blood LDL-cholesterol low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol) levels, which increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Recent information from the American Heart Association indicates that CHD causes about 500,000 deaths annually, making it the number one cause of death in the United States. FDA also has proposed limits on trans fat on several nutrient content claims found on food labels.

Food groups welcomed the label, but held some reservations. The Grocery Manufacturers of America said "it is crucial that nutrition labels serve, not confuse, consumers." Meanwhile, the National Food Processors of America said they support the label but "it is important that consumers understand that all fats can be part of a healthful diet; the key with fat -- as with the overall diet -- is balance, moderation and variety."

In 1994, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned FDA to require that trans fat be included with saturated fat on food labels, and of last week's proposed label change the consumer group hailed FDA's long-awaited decision to label trans fat. Trans fat labeling will provide consumers with an important new tool that will allow them to judge which foods are heart healthy, CSPI said. FDA is soliciting comments from the public on the proposed rule.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 22, 1999
Words:342
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