NY Congressman Reintroduces Bill to Close Trans Fat Labeling Loophole

On Nov. 22, 2013, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) reintroduced a bill that would require clearer labeling of trans fats on food packaging. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted a requirement that trans fats be listed on the nutrition facts panel of food packaging; however, 0.4 gram or less is declared as “0g,” meaning companies can market such products as having “zero grams trans fat.” Israel’s legislation amended this regulation and require that products with less than half a gram of trans fat have an asterisk in the “amount per serving” column and a note at the bottom of the label explaining that the product “contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat.” Foods that actually don’t contain any trans fat could still list “0g” on the label.

Consumption of trans fat can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their daily trans fat intake to less than 2 grams per day, but Israel is concerned that consumers could exceed this maximum without realizing it by eating multiple portions of a product containing 0.49 grams trans fat per serving labeled as 0 grams. Israel introduced the bill two weeks after the FDA announced a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a major source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in food. “I am extremely pleased to hear that the FDA is taking a crucial step toward eliminating artificial trans fats in our food supply, which is sure to lead to a drastic reduction in heart disease in the U.S.,” Israel said in a statement at the time. “For many years now, I’ve been advocating for a more transparent labeling system, so consumers understand the amount of trans fats they are ingesting and have the information they need to make healthy choices.”

Israel did note in his bill that, despite the FDA’s determination, “certain foods will still contain a certain level of naturally-occurring trans fats,” and its labeling will remain in effect.

Food Safety News

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Have you made the switch yet? Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk or dairy products. They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

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