Labeling Works! Trans Fat Consumption Down 75% in 10 Years

industrial fryer

In 2006, federal labeling regulations went into effect that demanded the labeling of trans-fats content on product nutrition labels. Many food manufacturers responded by changing their product formulations to remove the partially hydrogenated oils responsible for the trans-fats in our food. As Food Navigator reports, consumption has decreased from 6.1 grams per person per day to 1.3 grams. This is great news.

Artificially created trans-fats have been shown to increase bad cholesterol levels and lead to cardiovascular disease. Thus, the FDA labeling requirement was an important one.

Food manufacturers mourned the new requirement, because trans-fats had been a cheap way to manufacture solid fats from non-animal sources and maintain long shelf life. Somehow they managed to figure out healthier alternatives and survive.

This is a great example of a public health measure that would never have happened if the food industry was left to its own devices. One can only imagine the number of heart attacks that have been prevented and how much money has been saved.

Think about that when contemplating GMO labeling, providing information on added sugars, and other

  • Laura Boyer

    I think this is a great example of the proper way for the govt to intervene…..ensuring that the public is well informed but not interfering with freedom of choice and then letting the food industry respond to public demand.

  • Christopher Gardner

    There is an important question that remains unanswered. What is it the food companies used in place of the trans fats? I can assure you the companies who were using solid trans fats to keep the icing from rolling off the top of the cupcake, didn’t decide to use olive oil…which would have rolled off the top of the cupcake (and probably would have tasted quite odd/off).
    I was privy to a food industry discussion of this very topic, and the top two replacement choices were palm oil (goodbye to more rainforest) and esterified stearic acid (which would be a synthetic byproduct of soy oil).

    Yes, labeling helped to decrease trans fat intake. But whether it helped to decrease cupcake intake or not, and the choice of replacement fat(s) was for those who chose to continue eating their “trans-fat-free” cupcake remain important parts of the discussion. Don’t lose sight of the forest.

    • Fooducate

      You make good points Chris. This is a classic case of having to choose from several bad choices. The one chosen is probably the least bad, but it does not necessarily mean it was good. People do need to eat less cupcakes. And yes, there are other ramifications as you described.

    • ChoppedBroccoli

      As suggested by Chris – just look at your labels harder. Its just a shell game now:

      Also, since products can have 499mg of trans fat per serving and still be labeled trans-fat free do we know if the report took into account this shuffling? If the report measured by actually checking samples of food then this is great news. If the report simply trusted the label’s serving size and keyword match for ‘hydrogenated oil’ on the ingredients list, then I’m not sure the results are concrete as we’d like to think.

  • koderken

    So, labeling works! I suppose NOW you will support soda companies vending machines that post the calories in each drink, and agree that the soda manufacturers are actually being responsible.

    • Fooducate

      The beverage companies have been mandated by law to post full calorie information on vending machines.
      “…if an article of food
      is sold from a vending machine that does not permit a prospective purchaser to examine the Nutrition Facts Panel before purchasing the food or does not otherwise provide visible nutrition information at the point of purchase and the vending machine is operated by a person who is engaged in the business of owning or operating 20 or more vending machines, the vending machine operator must provide calorie information for the food. Specifically, the vending machine operator must “provide a sign in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article.”

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