FDA To Require Trans Fat Information on Nutrition Labels of Processed Foods
FDA officials said that next year the agency will require food manufacturers to include information on trans fat content on the nutrition labels of processed foods, the New York Times reports (Morales, New York Times, 9/3). A National Academy of Sciences study released in July found a direct link between trans fat, a processed fat found in crackers, cookies and fast food, and heart disease and increases in LDL cholesterol, which can block arteries. The study recommended that individuals reduce their consumption of trans fat. Analysts considered the study the final step in an eight-year process to convince the FDA to require trans fat information on nutrition labels. According to the FDA, information about trans fat on nutrition labels could prevent 7,600 to 17,100 cases of coronary heart disease and 2,500 to 5,600 deaths each year (American Health Line, 7/11). FDA officials said that the agency will require food manufacturers to include trans fat information on a separate line from saturated fat. In 1999, the Grocery Manufacturers of America petitioned federal officials to separate the information "because it said labeling trans fat on the same line as saturated fat would be inadequate and misleading," the Times reports (New York Times, 9/3).
In related news, McDonald's, the world's largest fast food chain, yesterday announced plans to fry foods in a different oil that will reduce the amount of trans fat in french fries by about 50%, the Washington Post reports (Kaufman, Washington Post, 9/4). The move will reduce the trans fat in a small bag of french fries to 1.8 grams from 3.4 grams, a 47% decrease. Saturated fat will drop to 1.9 grams from 2.3 grams, a 17% decrease. The reduction "will be phased in" at the estimated 13,000 domestic McDonald's restaurants between October and February and will extend worldwide in the future (Horovitz, USA Today, 9/3). Gregory Miller, president of the American College of Nutrition, called the announcement a "big move" that "can help people meet their nutrition goals," and the American Heart Association also praised the move (Washington Post, 9/4). However, Margot Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, "This doesn't turn french fries into a health food. But McDonald's should be applauded for taking a step forward" (USA Today, 9/3). NPR's "All Things Considered" Tuesday reported on McDonald's use of lower-fat cooking oil (Aubrey, "All Things Considered," NPR, 9/3). The full segment is available in RealPlayer online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.