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Wed, Jul-10-02, 20:31
U.S. to Require Trans Fat Labeling
Wed Jul 10, 3:23 PM ET
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The government is moving to require the listing of artery-clogging trans fat on food labels after a report from the Institute of Medicine ( news - web sites) found there is no safe level in people's diets.
Eating some trans fat may be unavoidable, but people should reduce their intake as much as possible to lower the chance of heart disease, the Institute, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences ( news - web sites), said Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration ( news - web sites) has been developing rules to require listing of trans fat on food labels. FDA food labeling chief Christine Lewis Taylor said her agency would act as soon as possible.
The final rule could be issued sometime between next fall and early spring, Taylor said in a telephone interview.
Because it is directly associated with the bad LDL cholesterol and heart disease, there is no safe amount of trans fat in the diet, the Institute of Medicine said in its report.
But since trans fat occurs in meat, dairy products, pastries and many other foods, eliminating it would mean such extraordinary changes in diet for many people that they might not get enough protein or nutrients, the Institute added.
Because it considers no amount safe, the Institute declined to list an upper limit for trans fat in the diet. It's that limit that FDA uses to establish the recommended daily value for any part of the diet.
That means the FDA will require food producers to list the grams of trans fat on the label with other nutrition facts, but it will not include the percent of daily value, Taylor explained.
The private Center for Science in the Public Interest has been pressing for inclusion of trans fat on labels since 1994.
"This is the first attempt by a panel of experts to set a safe intake for trans fat ... what's surprising is they concluded the only safe intake of trans fat is zero," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at CSPI.
She suggested a combined listing of trans fat and saturated fat with a combined daily upper limit. Both types of fat have been shown to contribute to heart disease.
"If trans fat was labeled separately people might go to great lengths to eliminate it, and maybe they would increase their intake of saturated fat and that would be bad," Wootan said.
Taylor agreed there are lots of reasons to be worried about both those fats in the diet, but said they won't be combined on the labels. There will be a separate line for trans fat.
Rather that trying to recommend a limit on consumption of trans fat, the IOM report said it should be "as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet."
The FDA has previously estimated that listing trans fat on food labels would save between 2,000 and 5,600 lives a year as people either chose healthier foods or manufacturers improve their recipes to leave out this fat.
Currently the only way to determine if a food contains trans fat is to look for "hydrogenated" on the ingredient list. The most common source of trans fat is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, in which liquid oil is turned into a solid. This material is included in thousands of foods. Typically, the harder a margarine or cooking fat, the more trans fat it includes.
The National Academy of Sciences is an independent organization chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific matters.
Wed, Jul-10-02, 20:59
I just had a look at the proposed amendments (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/food-aliment/friia-raaii/food_drugs-aliments_drogues/part-partie_1/e_601251_eng.pdf) to nutrition labelling here in Canada. I confess I paid more attention to the carbohydrate and sugar alcohols section before. It appears that the Cdn proposals, which have been on the table for over a year now, do indeed include trans fatty acids to be declared. HOWEVER :( .. it seems that they will be lumped together with saturated fat. So, the label will show the grams of total fat, then the breakdown of monos, polys and saturates + trans. So, you'll have no way of knowing if the label declares the food has 20g of saturates + trans ... how much of each type makes up that 20g.
Thu, Jul-11-02, 11:00
Report Recommends Limiting Trans-Fats in Diet
Wed Jul 10, 5:57 PM ET
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fats found in meat, milk, cookies and fries raise cholesterol, government advisers said on Wednesday, but they decided not to set limits because it would be too hard for people to meet them.
Because trans-fatty acids always raise cholesterol, especially "bad" or LDL cholesterol, people should avoid eating them, the Institute of Medicine ( news - web sites) panel said.
The problem is, they are everywhere.
"Having a little bit is probably OK," Eric Rimm, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the report, said in a telephone interview. "But avoiding it if at all possible is ideal."
Trans-fatty acids are a component of fat and found in all animal fats, from meat to butter. They are also made synthetically when food processors harden fat in a process called hydrogenization.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( news - web sites) has been considering requiring food labels known as "nutrition fact boxes" to list trans-fat content, and asked the Institute to study the issue.
The report, issued on Wednesday, is part of a larger report that will be issued later in the year on macronutrients -- carbohydrates, fat and protein -- and how much people should aim to get in the diet.
It will join other reports that advise the government and public on what levels of vitamins people should eat. These advisories are used to set policy and guide, for instance, school lunch programs.
LIMIT SHOULD BE ZERO
The report reviews scientific findings on trans-fats and finds that eating any at all raises levels of low-density lipoprotein -- the so-called bad cholesterol. Therefore, if a limit were to be set, it should be zero.
Rimm said the panel, made up of nutritionists, biochemists, pediatricians and others, decided not to do that.
"We can't tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products," he said.
"Well, we could tell people to become vegetarians," he added. "If we were truly basing this only on science, we would, but it is a bit extreme."
Alice Lichtenstein, a nutritional biochemist at Tufts University in Boston, said meat and dairy products are also high in saturated fat and therefore should be limited.
She said it would likewise be difficult to cut out all baked goods that are sources of trans-fatty acids.
"The major sources of trans-fatty acids in the diet are from partly hydrogenated vegetable fat, which is used for commercial frying," she said in a telephone interview.
Fast food, frozen foods, cookies, crackers and pastries are all often loaded with them.
So is most stick margarine, but Lichtenstein, who served on the committee, said that does not mean people should return to using butter.
"Certainly butter is higher in saturated fat than margarine is in trans-fat," she said. "The scientific evidence shows that butter is worse than traditional stick margarine."
What people should do, Lichtenstein, is use softer margarines and oils that contain less hardened fat. For frying, liquid oils should always be used.
Margarines are also available that contain little or no hydrogenated fat.
The panel recommends that consumers look for the term "hydrogenated fat" in the ingredient lists of food they buy.
"The message, especially to food producers, is why don't you try to decrease levels?" Lichtenstein said.
"We hope this report will encourage new labeling laws so that trans-fat has to be on the label," Rimm added.
Fri, Jul-12-02, 06:40
What exactly do they mean when they say trans fatty acids are found in all animal fats from meat to butter?
Saturated fat should be considered different from a partially hydrogenated fat, but do they share any of the components of each other? Or is this based on the fuzzy research of saturated fats raising cholesterol in the presence of a high carb diet?
Fri, Jul-12-02, 07:01
Never mind. I saw Voyager's copius research on it in another thread.
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