Nutritionist Comments On New FDA Trans Fat Regulations

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Article courtesy of K-State News & Communications Services….. Food and Drug Administration has announced that partially hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of trans fat, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. This ruling comes two years after the FDA’s first tentative determination of the same finding and a request for comments on the matter. The FDA has given the food industry until 2018 to stop using partially hydrogenated oils and fats in processed food products.

Mary Meck Higgins, a Kansas State University associate professor of human nutrition and an expert in food and nutrition, discusses what the announcement means for nutrition and the food industry.

Expert name: Mary Meck Higgins

Expertise: Kansas State University associate professor of human nutrition, K-State Research and Extension specialist, fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and

Dietetics, registered dietitian and licensed dietitian



What is trans fat?

“The primary dietary source of trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils. These oils are produced by a process called hydrogenation, where some hydrogen is added to a liquid vegetable oil, which converts it into a solid when it’s at room temperature. Partially hydrogenated oils and fats, and thus artificial trans fat, have been in many processed foods for the past 60 years. They are used to improve the shelf life, texture and flavor stability of a processed food.”

“Foods sold without a nutrition facts or ingredients label do not have partially hydrogenated oils or artificial trans fat in them. Small amounts — typically about 2 to 3 percent — of naturally occurring trans fat may be found in some cooking oils and in the fat component of dairy and meat products from ruminant animals, such as cattle, sheep and goats.”

What does this announcement mean?

“Food companies will have three years to stop using partially hydrogenated oils and fats in their processed food products. After that, there should no longer be artificial trans fat in our food supply.”

Why is it important?

“Eating partially hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated fats is a strong risk factor for getting heart disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death for men and women in the U.S. They contribute to the buildup of plaque inside the arteries that may cause a heart attack. Eliminating them from the food supply should prevent thousands of deadly heart attacks each year and fewer people will get heart disease.”

“Currently, eliminating trans fat from one’s diet entirely is all but impossible because it’s practically unavoidable in the U.S. diet. People would also have to spend lots of time reading two kinds of food labels. The nutrition facts label shows how many grams of trans fat are in one serving of each processed food. In many instances though, a food that is made with partially hydrogenated oils has too little trans fat in it per serving to be listed on the nutrition facts label. For foods showing 0 grams trans fat, one must then look at the mostly small-print ingredients list. If a partially hydrogenated oil or fat is listed as an ingredient, then that food does contain a small amount of trans fat. The new FDA ruling will eliminate the need to have to do all of this, since partially hydrogenated oils will no longer be in our food supply once it goes into effect.”

What else should we know about this announcement?

“Food companies have three years to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils and fats from their products. Until then, check ingredient lists of foods — especially frozen pizzas, coffee creamers, stick margarines, microwave popcorn, crackers, cookies, refrigerated dough products, cakes, packaged pies, ready to use frostings and nutrition bars — and avoid those brands that contain partially hydrogenated oils and fats.”

“To further reduce risk of heart disease, people should limit dietary saturated fats. On average, people living in the U.S. eat four to five times as much saturated fat as trans fat.”

How can a person reduce dietary saturated fat?

“Eat at least three one-ounce servings of whole grains and 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Eat seafood — including oily fish — and cooked dry beans and peas in place of some meat and poultry. Choose skinless poultry. For beef and pork, choose lean cuts — such as loin — and at least 90 percent lean ground. Limit intake of fatty meats, such as sausage, franks, bacon and ribs. In addition, choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products. Cook and bake with liquid oils instead of shortenings, butter and lard.”

New Menu Labeling Regulations By FDA Are A Huge Step In Calorie Awareness

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scaleThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized ruling requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, a ruling that will provide consumers with the information they need to make smart decisions for themselves and their families.

This FDA ruling is the next step in the long-awaited implementation of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s national requirement for all restaurant-type chains of 20 or more establishments to clearly post the calorie information for each standard item on their menus or menu board.

The FDA’s menu labeling initiative is in line with the thinking of Catherine Jones, award-winning cookbook author and chef, and Elaine Trujillo, MS, RDN, nutritionist, who are the authors of The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook. “We believe that providing accurate nutrition information to consumers who are interested in weight management can have a powerful effect on food selection and is a step in the right direction for overall calorie balance,” said Jones and Trujillo.

Calorie information will be required to be posted in restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type food.

The ruling comes in light of the fact that Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. Making calorie information available will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.

Restaurant-type establishments selling prepared foods for immediate consumption, such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, convenience stores and grocery stores also will be required to comply with these new guidelines. “If we can influence Americans when they are choosing popcorn at the movie theater or a sundae from an ice cream store, we can potentially make great strides in fighting obesity,” says Trujillo.

The posting of calorie information for standard menu items on menus and menu boards will be required, in addition to a succinct statement about suggested daily caloric intake. Other calorie information, such as total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein, will have to be made available on request.

CATHERINE JONES is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous cookbooks including The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook, Eating for Pregnancy, and Eating for Lower Cholesterol. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Share Your Calories, an app developer, blogger, and a freelance journalist. ELAINE TRUJILLO, MS, RDN, is a nutritionist who has years of experience promoting nutrition and health and has written numerous scientific journal articles, chapters and textbooks.