Read between the lines on labels for fats.

Reading between the lineson labels

Is there truth inlabels?

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education andResearch in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, May 1998, wrote, "How can you tellif 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 voluntarilylist monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, but it’s unlikely you’ll see trans fatlisted."

The Mayo Foundation continued, "Still, you may be able to tell if aproduct contains trans fat, even if it’s not directly listed on the food label. Lookfor the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ in the list of ingredients. Theseterms indicate that the product contains trans fat. However, you won’t be able to tell howmuch trans fat is included."

Hopefully, the FDA will do something about that soon, since the food industrydoesn’t appear to voluntarily divulge that information. One Nabisco customer serviceperson told me that to disclose that information on margarine would mean Nabisco had todisclose their formula.

I don’t agree with that personally so I called back and spoke to anothercustomer service person in my quest for that information. I had the same result. Neitherservice 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 muchhydrogenated fat we are eating. Even if the FDA does not require it, manufacturers shouldwillingly give it. I understand many Canadian products are beginning to voluntarily givethis information.

Why not the US?

I called the FDA. They would not answer my questions but did offer to send meliterature. Unfortunately, it did not divulge how to determine the amount of hydrogenatedfat grams are in a product by reading the label.

The food industry has a powerful influence, maybe even on the FDA, and we maywait a long time to get that info on labels.

Of course, I quit eating the Nabisco margarine immediately. Now I eat nomargarine and am used to that style of eating. But I am still not pleased that I can notfind 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 mostprevalent by weight to least prevalent. At least you will have a slight clue as to howmuch 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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