Jun 13, 2011

Action Alert: Trans Fat Labeling

I (Julie) received the following information via email from the Weston A. Price Foundation and thought some of our readers would want to respond.  I did.


One provision Obama health care act that requires nutrition labeling of standardized menu selections at restaurant chains with twenty or more locations.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published proposed regulations for this labeling and is currently accepting public comment.

These regulations would require the same pejorative labeling for natural, healthy trans fats as for unhealthy industrial trans fats.

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contains harmful trans fat, known to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes.  But ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats) also make trans fat, which is stored in their fat and butterfat.  Ruminant trans fat is transformed into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can prevent cancer and has other health benefits.

Because there is little or no cooked meat in most packaged foods, and because serving sizes are modest, the ruminant trans fat present in these foods is usually less than 0.5g per serving.  Below this amount the trans fat is labeled as 0g per serving.

But a hamburger made with a quarter pound of 20 percent fat ground beef has a trans fat level of about 0.6g.  And with a slice of cheese it is 0.8g. The fat in beef has about 5 percent trans fat and milk fat has about 3.5 percent.

As proposed, the trans fat in natural animal fats will be declared on menus.  This is because the regulations make no distinction between industrial and ruminant trans fat.

In Europe, the regulations do not mandate trans fat labeling for ruminant trans fats, as scientists there recognize the difference between healthy trans fats in butter and meat fat, and unhealthy industrial trans fats.

Through July 5 the FDA is accepting comments on the proposed regulations.  We invite you to contact the FDA with your views.  Please tell the Agency that all trans fat is not the same.  A new category, Industrial trans fat should replace trans fat for nutrition labeling.  This new category will not subject healthy ruminant fats to pejorative labeling.

To submit a comment electronically, please do as follows:

1.  Open the website www.regulations.gov, and click Submit a Comment.

2.  Enter docket number FDA-2011-F-0172 in the keyword space.

3.  Click Search.

4.  Go to the far right on the screen labeled 1 result for FDA-2011-F-0172
     and click submit a comment.

To submit a comment by U.S. Postal Service:

1.  Send to:  The Division of Dockets Management
                    Food and Drug Administration
                    5630 Fisher Lane
                    Rockville, MD 20852

    It is important to write the docket number FDA-2011-F-0172 on each page.

The Weston A. Price Foundation appreciates your taking the time to tell the FDA that the trans fat in milk and meat should not be regarded in the same manner as the trans fat in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

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