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What the New Food Labels Mean to You

separator You may have been hearing a lot about upcoming changes on food labels. But what does all this mean in terms of your decision-making about the products you buy?

On all food labels, food manufacturers will have to list the amount of trans fats per serving. This alone is helpful for the consumer, because trans fats, which health experts believe contribute to the risk of heart disease, have not been listed on labels at all. So this is a step in the right direction.

But one thing you need to know is that there will be no number listed to tell you whether the amount of trans fat in the food is relatively high or not. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer may see that there are five grams of fat per serving and think that’s not a lot. But many researchers believe that no amount of trans fat is a healthy amount, so 5 grams could actually be considered high.

You should also know that manufacturers will be allowed to describe a food high in trans fats as low in saturated fat. This is truthful, but it could actually mislead some people into thinking that the product is good for them.

Your best bet is to avoid foods with trans fats whenever you can. And don’t forget that fast food restaurants commonly use trans fats in their French fries and other products, and those aren’t required to be listed anywhere. (This includes McDonalds, which announced months ago that it would stop using trans fats, but has not yet lived up to that claim.)

Center for Science in the Public Interest; Food and Drug Administration.
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