Category Archives: partially hydrogenated oil

New study finds food labels mislead consumers about trans fat. Surprised?

????????????????????????????????????Nope. Not a bit. That’s because current food labels do mislead consumers when it comes to trans fat.

People may be consuming more trans fat than they think, as a result of misleading food labels, according to a study from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Researchers examined 4,340 top-selling packaged foods and found that 9 percent contained partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat. But of those foods, 84 percent claimed on their packaging to have “0 grams” of trans fat.

The amount of trans fat in these products varied from small traces to almost 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the researchers said.

Under the rules of the Food and Drug Administration, foods that contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving must be labeled with “0 g” of trans fat.
“This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the 0 g trans fat on the nutrition facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Trans fat is a specific type of fat that is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into solid fats. The FDA has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils are not “generally recognized as safe” for consumption. If the FDA makes a final determination, trans fat would become an illegal food additive.

People who consume trans fat may be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, studies have suggested.

The food products examined in the study ranged from cookies to salad dressing and canned soup.

“Our analysis demonstrates that industrial trans fat is still common in U.S. packaged foods, particularly in some food categories,” the researchers said.
For example, half of the foods in the potato chips category, and 35 percent of cookies contained trans fat, according to the report.

FoodFacts.com has been reporting on this phenomenon for years. Long story short — only educated and nutritionally aware consumers understand that 0 trans fat doesn’t always equal 0. As long as the product in question contains less than .5 grams, the manufacturer is permitted to list trans fat content as 0. The concern of course, is that if the consumer eats more than a single serving of that product, the trans fat can quickly add up. Take cookies for example, which were included in this research. An average serving size of cookies as listed on most packaging is three cookies. If you eat six cookies that contain .5 grams of trans fat per serving of three, you’ve consumed one gram of trans fat. Throw some canned soup in the mix for the day and maybe some potato chips and it’s really difficult to know exactly how much trans fat you’ve consumed in that 24 hour period.

This is a great reminder for those who already understand the facts about trans fat — and a great learning opportunity for those who didn’t yet understand — that just because you think it doesn’t contain trans fat, doesn’t mean that’s the case. We’re crossing our fingers that the proposed trans fat ban does become reality. In the meantime, let’s all remember that when it comes to nutrition labels, not every 0 represents the same thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/consumers-beware-misleading-labels-hide-trans-fats/

Misleading trans fat claims make news as Quaker settles labeling law suit

iStock_000041289832SmallWhen it comes to trans fat, FoodFacts.com has always been amazed that manufacturers are able to label foods containing less than .5 grams per serving as “trans fat free.” The labeling is false, it’s purposely misleading and it relies on the idea that consumers don’t understand ingredients. What manufacturers forget, though, is that there actually are educated consumers out there who understand that partially hydrogenated oils in an ingredient list indicate the presence of trans fat in a product. And some of them are willing to do something about misleading product claims.

The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.

Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.

Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.

Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.

So even though Quaker is still standing by its product statements, they’ve agreed to remove trans fat from the products named in the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with the products, seemingly, just that pesky lawsuit.

We don’t really think that’s it. Instead, we think that it makes more sense for Quaker to settle out of court so that the company can stand by its claims and its products while making some quiet changes than to let this go to court where millions of other consumers may develop a clear understanding of what’s really in their products.

This is a victory for consumers, undoubtedly. At the same time, we’d really rather that the strange rule about claiming 0 grams of trans fat when products really do contain it would disappear.

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/08/Quaker_settles_trans_fat_label.aspx?ID=%7B84BC2EC0-2C7E-45A4-9A3A-F87392B80CBB%7D

Are we getting ready to say goodbye to trans fat in our food supply?

We sure hope so!

Last week the FDA proposed the almost complete elimination of trans fat from food products in the U.S. This is an argument that has been debated for the last three decades and this long-awaited move would force manufacturers to rid their products of ingredients containing trans fat.

This important action would effectively remove partially hydrogenated oils from the FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (or GRAS) list. In response to this, companies that include partially hydrogenated oils in their products would then have to prove that these oils are safe to eat. It would be exceptionally difficult for any company (regardless of its size or political weight) to actually do this. There’s basically no scientific data that would support a statement that infers that partially hydrogenated oils aren’t harmful. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no safe level for consumption of trans fats, a conclusion that the F.D.A. cited in its reasoning. The agency emphasized that the ruling, which is open to public comment for 60 days, was preliminary. But food producers seemed to take it in stride, in part because many had already made adjustments, and Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the agency’s commissioner, signaled that the draft rule might be made final.

Artificial trans fats are a “double whammy” for the human body. They lower good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol. There’s nothing nutritionally beneficial about trans fats. In addition they are blamed as a major culprit in the increase in heart disease in the United States. A somewhat deceptive labeling system has kept many Americans in the dark about what they’ve actually been consuming. For years, manufacturers have been allowed to list a 0 on the Trans Fat line of a nutrition label if the product that label is on carries less than .5 g. of trans fat per serving.

And while efforts to reduce trans fat in the food supply have been effective, partially hydrogenated oils are in thousands and thousands of food products. In fact, consumers would actually never suspect the presence of oils in some of those products. For instance, oil of any sort probably wouldn’t be the first thing a consumer would think of when reflecting on the possible ingredients of YooHoo Chocolate Drink – but partially hydrogenated oils are in there.

For many years partially hydrogenated oils were considered healthier than saturated animal fats like butter. They are cheaper for manufacturers and so they became extremely popular. And while there’s been a major reduction in the consumption of trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils are still pretty popular ingredients in prepared and packaged foods. While we used to eat about 4.6 grams of trans fats daily, we’re now down to about 1 gram per day. That’s enormous progress. But we’re still consuming these oils which are implicated in the rise of heart disease far too often.

Partially hydrogenated oils are trans fats. Consumption is dangerous for all people. They add nothing nutritionally sound to our diets. They add to the incidences of heart disease throughout our country.

All in all, Foodfacts.com thinks this is a pretty easy call. While it will cause food manufacturers to reformulate thousands of products (which will be incredibly costly and time consuming), eliminating partially hydrogenated oils from our food supply will be worth it in the long run. Ingredients that are known health hazards need to be banned sooner rather than later in hopes that we will reverse devastating health trends (like heart disease and obesity), not just here in the U.S., but across the globe.

Are we subsidizing the obesity crisis?

FoodFacts.com is always interested in new information that helps us gain better insight into the skyrocketing obesity epidemic. We have great concern about the availability and nutritional quality of the processed foods and beverages in our grocery stores and fast food chains and are constantly offering education regarding the ingredients being used in our food supply. Obesity is a real problem in our society – one that affects the health and well-being of millions in our population.

Today we found information we want to make sure everyone in our community is aware of. A new report released by the U.S. PIRG (the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups) reveals that one billion dollars of federal tax money is subsidizing ingredients used in processed foods and beverages. We are financially supporting commodity crops used for additives like high-fructose corn syrup with enough tax dollars to effectively purchase 20 Twinkies every year for every taxpayer in our nation. By contrast, subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy each of us just one half of an apple each year.

These subsidies are part of the Farm Bill that expires in September. Both the Farm Bill approved by the U.S. Senate and the one that passed the House last Thursday would continue these subsidies.

The report indicates that as the obesity epidemic continues to grow each year, our food policy seems to be subsidizing the food and beverage products that are helping to fuel it. Between 1995 and 2012, American taxpayers spent more than $290 billion in agricultural subsidies. 75 percent of the subsidies go to just 3.8 percent of farmers. The subsidies mainly support a few commodity crops, including corn and soybeans. Among other uses, food manufacturers process corn and soy crops into additives like high-fructose corn syrup and vegetable oil – two of the ingredients that add excess sugar and fat to processed products.

Some of the report’s findings to take note of:

• Between 1995 and 2012, more than $19 billion in tax dollars subsidized four common food additives – corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils. At $7.30 per taxpayer per year, that would buy each taxpayer 20 Twinkies.

• Outside of commodity crops, other agricultural products received very little in federal subsidies. Since 1995, taxpayers spent only $689 million subsidizing apples, which is the only significant federal subsidy of fresh fruits or vegetables. Coming to 26 cents per taxpayer per year, that would buy less than half of one Red Delicious apple.

So as childhood obesity continues to rise and the obese population experiences a plethora of weight-related health problems, our tax dollars continue to support the ingredients that keep consumers coming back for more sugary and fatty food choices. FoodFacts.com finds this quite confusing. While we understand that research points to obesity as a complex problem with many contributing causes, it’s no secret that processed foods contain too much sugar and fat. And yet we’re actually supporting the very ingredients that play a role in the current epidemic. As a community of nutritionally-aware individuals, we can continue to do our part by remembering our own commitment to quality food choices, fresh ingredients and sharing knowledge. You can download the report here for the complete information it contains.

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/07/16

“But the label says no trans fat, so it’s fine” … exploring a modern myth

On the FoodFacts Facebook page this week, we’ve looked at products containing Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil, There are at least a few more “Partially Hydrogenated” oil substances to delve into in terms of food ingredients. But as we looked more closely at the subject, we realized that this is a very important topic for this blog.

We feel very strongly about education and even though trans fat is something you always hear about, we think, perhaps, we all need to be reminded of exactly how it is, or isn’t, being regulated. And that all depends on how you look at it.

First let’s make this point. Any oil listed as a food ingredient that begins with the phrase “partially hydrogenated” signifies the presence of trans fat in the food product it’s included in. It is impossible for the use of any partially hydrogenated oil not to result in a certain amount of trans fat. It doesn’t matter what type of oil is undergoing the process … vegetable, canola, sunflower, cottonseed – it all results in the same thing.

So here’s a random (and partial) ingredient list:
Citric Acid, Glycerol, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Potassium Sorbate, Flavoring Natural, Wheat Flour, Wheat Whole, BHT, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, Barley Malted Syrup, Corn Syrup Malted, Niacinamide (Vitamin aB), Canola Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sunflower Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Iron Reduced,  Salt, Vitamin A (Retinol Palmitate), Vitamin B6, Whey, Zinc Oxide, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Folic Acid (Vitamin aB), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

And here’s that ingredient list’s corresponding nutrition label:
You’ll note that the Trans Fat line reads 0 grams.

It’s within FDA requirements. The product hasn’t lied, they haven’t made a mistake and they haven’t been mislabeled. But the product still contains trans fat – even though it says it doesn’t.

According to the FDA, any product whose trans fat level falls below .5 grams per serving can list itself as having NO trans fat. Maybe that doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but it really can be and it’s really something we should all pay attention to.

There is no RDA for trans fat in the United States. In fact, all we’ve heard is that we should consume as little trans fat per day as possible. It’s just downright bad for us … trans fats add to weight gain and obesity problems, they help clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. There’s even research that points to the contribution of trans fats to the risk of diabetes.

Let’s assume that you have one serving of 5 different food products marked 0 g. trans fat per day. Let’s also assume that each of those servings actually contains .45 g of trans fat. You just consumed 2.25 g of a fat that has no determined level of safety!

The labeling of trans fat is regulated … sort of. Anything over .5 g per serving has to be noted on the nutrition label and anything below that counts as a 0.

Since it’s only a “sort of” regulation, it leads us to determine that until things change, we need to regulate ourselves. Any additional trans fat is unhealthy.

FoodFacts.com wants to keep you focused on your healthy lifestyle. Be a savvy consumer and be able to identify the myriad of products that contain trans fat. Keep reading, but make sure you’re reading more than nutrition labels. You need to read ingredient lists and keep your attention on the words “Partially Hydrogenated”. That’s the key to determining whether or not the product you’re considering actually contains trans fat.