Tuesday, February 5, 2008

From the Vault: 0 Trans Fat?

My old friend Jeff Quick remembered how I used to evangelize the health risks of consuming hydrogenated oils [as reiterated here], and told me he now stayed well clear of it. Well, it's been over a decade since I began that crusade. In the last few years my voice and many others have had a positive effect--I'm not the crazy lone doomsayer any longer. Now, for instance, you'll regularly see packaging claiming the food inside contains "0 Trans Fat."

Thus Jeff's [and Charles's] question: "I see a lot of labels nowadays crowing about 0 grams of transfat, but they still have hydrogenated oils in their ingredients list. What is your opinion on this turn of events?"

I told him my guess was food manufacturers could legally get away with claiming 0 trans fat if the amount contained was under a certain threshold. Well, by pure happenstance, it looks as if I didn't lead him wrong.

According to David L. Katz, M.D, a professor at Yale author of Flavor Point Diet:

"[Under FDA rules, food manufacturers are] required to post just how much of the artery clogger (trans fatty acid) is in the food--unless there's less than .5 grams per serving, in which case they can say 'zero trans fat.' The problem is 'one serving' can be misleadingly small--seven or eight 'free' cookies could sneak in 3 or more grams of trans fat."

There it is--if you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, stay clear.
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