Reading between the lines on labels
Is there truth in labels?
The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, May 1998, wrote, "How can you tell if a food product contains trans fat? When it comes to listing fat on food labels, manufacturers are required to only list total fat and saturated fat. Some also voluntarily list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, but it's unlikely you'll see trans fat listed."
The Mayo Foundation continued, "Still, you may be able to tell if a product contains trans fat, even if it's not directly listed on the food label. Look for the words 'hydrogenated' or 'partially hydrogenated' in the list of ingredients. These terms indicate that the product contains trans fat. However, you won't be able to tell how much trans fat is included."
Hopefully, the FDA will do something about that soon, since the food industry doesn't appear to voluntarily divulge that information. One Nabisco customer service person told me that to disclose that information on margarine would mean Nabisco had to disclose their formula.
I don't agree with that personally so I called back and spoke to another customer service person in my quest for that information. I had the same result. Neither service person would tell me how much hydrogenated fat was in a Nabisco margarine.
That is upsetting because, in my opinion, we should have some idea of how much hydrogenated fat we are eating. Even if the FDA does not require it, manufacturers should willingly give it. I understand many Canadian products are beginning to voluntarily give this information.
Why not the US?
I called the FDA. They would not answer my questions but did offer to send me literature. Unfortunately, it did not divulge how to determine the amount of hydrogenated fat grams are in a product by reading the label.
The food industry has a powerful influence, maybe even on the FDA, and we may wait a long time to get that info on labels.
Of course, I quit eating the Nabisco margarine immediately. Now I eat no margarine and am used to that style of eating. But I am still not pleased that I can not find out how many hydrogenated fat grams are in a food product.
One hint: Remember that the list of ingredients on labels is in order from most prevalent by weight to least prevalent. At least you will have a slight clue as to how much hydrogenated fat you are consuming.
Unfortunately, that is just one of the problems with labels and fats. What about "95% fat free."
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