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FDA expands labels in effort to curb obesity.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to expand food labeling to include such details as trans fats in an effort to counter obesity, the head of the agency said June 9. "Right now, companies do a good job of competing on the basis of taste and price and whether a food springs ready to eat out of a box," FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan said in a speech. "But they don't spend as much time competing on science-based information about the health consequences of their product." McClellan said a commission will present recommendations this month on improving food labels. Trans fats occur when hydrogen gas is added to vegetable oil.

McClellan said a commission was due to present recommendations later this month on beefing up information on food products. He said he expected new guidelines to expand "the nutrition label on products which now has calorie information but does not have complete information on dietary components such as trans fats."

Trans fats, found in thousands of American products ranging from breakfast cereals to cookies, comes through a process of adding hydrogen gas to vegetable oil, which health experts say make them as unhealthy as real butter, if not worse. Health experts complain few consumers know about the dangers of trans fats and their core ingredient, partially hydrogenated oils, are often buried in a long list of ingredients on present labels.

McClellan said consumers should also know if the food has Omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest help prevent coronary heart disease. "It really is consumer choices that have the biggest impact on public health in this country and we want to do all we can to make sure those choices are guided by the best, most up-top-date information," he said.
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Comment:FDA expands labels in effort to curb obesity.
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 16, 2003
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