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Feature Articles: Health

 

Food Labels to List Trans Fats and Allergens 

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County
University of Missouri Extension

 


As of January 1, 2006 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has new requirements for food labels. Consumers will now be able to look at a food label and know how much trans fat a product contains. In addition, proteins from eight foods that cause allergens must also be included on the food label. These two new requirements will allow consumers to make important decisions about the purchases they make at the grocery store.
 

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires that manufacturers list ingredients that contain protein from milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. According to the FDA, these foods account for about 90% of allergic food reactions. The labels must list the protein that causes the allergic reaction as well as the food in which that protein is found. For example, the label must list “casein” which is the protein and “milk” the food in which the protein is found.

 

This will help children make decisions about the foods they consume. This is important because more children than adults suffer from food allergies.
 

Listing of the amount of trans fat is the other new labeling requirement. Saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol raise low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol. High cholesterol levels increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Saturated fat and cholesterol are already required on the food label.
 

Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. This process turns the liquid to a solid. Keep in mind that saturated fats are hard at room temperature. Hydrogenation makes vegetable oils hard at room temperature which makes our body recognize and utilize like a saturated fat.
 

On the Nutrition Facts panel of the food label, trans fat will be listed directly under saturated fat. There is no Daily Value established for trans fats so there will be no % Daily Value listed. The total number of grams of trans fats per serving will be listed. A recommendation is that no more than 10% of total calories should be from saturated fat and trans fats. For a person consuming 2000 calories per day, that would mean no more than 22 grams of saturated and trans fats for the day.
 

Don’t expect that you will find this information on all food labels at this time. Food that was labeled before January 1, 2006 is not required to be re-labeled. Within a few months, you should start finding this information on most food labels.

 

 

 

 

Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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