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NY Congressman Reintroduces Bill to Close Trans Fat Labeling Loophole

On Nov. 22, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) reintroduced a bill that would require clearer labeling of trans fats on food packaging.

In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted a requirement that trans fats be listed on the nutrition facts panel of food packaging. But 0.4 gram or less is declared as “0g,” meaning companies can market such products as having “zero grams trans fat.”

Israel’s legislation would amend this regulation so that products with less than half a gram of trans fat would have an asterisk in the “amount per serving” column and a note at the bottom of the label explaining that the product “contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat.” Foods that actually don’t contain any trans fat could still list “0g” on the label.

Consumption of trans fat can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their daily trans fat intake to less than 2 grams per day, but Israel is concerned that consumers could exceed this maximum without realizing it by eating multiple portions of a product containing 0.49 grams trans fat per serving labeled as 0 grams.

Israel introduced the bill two weeks after FDA announced a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), a major source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in food.

“I am extremely pleased to hear that the FDA is taking a crucial step toward eliminating artificial trans fats in our food supply, which is sure to lead to a drastic reduction in heart disease in the U.S.,” Israel said in a statement at the time. “For many years now, I’ve been advocating for a more transparent labeling system, so consumers understand the amount of trans fats they are ingesting and have the information they need to make healthy choices.”

Israel did note in his bill that, despite the FDA’s determination, “certain foods will still contain a certain level of naturally-occurring trans fats,” and its labeling will remain in effect.

© Food Safety News
  • Emily Nelson

    The number corporations can use and still claim “zero” trans fat is actually 0.49 grams of trans fat, or less than 0.5 grams, not 0.4 grams.

  • farmber

    According to the science behind FDA’s recent (but highly belated) decision to revoke the GRAS safety status of Transfats — there are NO SAFE LEVELS.

    These labeling games are criminal.

  • Rita

    why not label the exact content ?

  • Wendy – a dietitian

    Why don’t we spend our time and $ on educating the public and let the food companies make food instead of the government dictating to companies how to do business. Then the free market would take of everything since educated consumers wouldn’t buy unhealthy foods. Unless of course some people wanted to – I like my Oreos but I know not to eat them every day!!

    • farmber

      1. To begin with — because of the Corporate/Big Money influence in Government we’re Far from having a free market.

      2. The operating condition is that consumers are to be duped — and any “education” comes from corporate advertising to buy their products — and many products have added addictive junk food elements — sugar, salt, calories — and Yummy Transfats….. You can even load up on ’em with your SNAP benefits — which represents a Huge Public Subsidy to the Junk Phood Industry.

      3. And somehow the dietitian industry is now sponsored by some of those same Phood Corporations —

      Yup — let’s let the good ole Free Market decide…

    • justme

      Educate the American public… on a topic in which they have minimal interest… now, there’s a lofty goal! I’m with farmber!