FDA To Require Trans Fatty Acid Amounts on Food Labels
The FDA today is expected to announce that it will begin requiring manufacturers of packaged foods to list the amount of trans fatty acids on nutrition labels along with existing information on total fat content and saturated fat, the Boston Globe reports. The decision is a response to a "growing body of scientific evidence" linking trans fatty acids with cardiovascular disease. Under the new rule, food manufacturers will be required to list the weight in grams per serving of trans fat, as is currently listed for sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, the Globe reports (Lutz, Boston Globe, 7/9). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "By putting trans fat information on food labels, we are making it possible for consumers to make the right choices to lower their intake of these unhealthy fats" (Hellmich/Horovitz, USA Today, 7/9). The FDA estimates that the new trans fat labels could prevent 7,600 to 17,100 cases of coronary heart disease and 2,500 to 5,600 fatalities per year by making it easier for individuals to choose healthier foods and by pressuring food manufacturers to modify their recipes (Severson, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/9). However, some health experts and consumer advocates believe modifying nutrition labels to include trans fat -- which amounts to only 1% to 3% of the total fat U.S. residents consume -- will cause people to focus too much on trans fat and ignore possibly higher amounts of saturated fats, which account for 14% of consumers' total fat intake (Boston Globe, 7/9). Although the new labeling rule will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2006, the FDA hopes the move will "nudge" food manufacturers to modify their nutrition labels earlier "for competitive reasons," USA Today reports (USA Today, 7/9). Last week, Kraft Foods, the nation's largest food company, announced plans to eliminate marketing to children in schools, introduce smaller portion sizes and develop healthier food products (California Healthline, 7/2).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.