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Public easily deceived by trans fat food labels: study

01-04-2011 11:24 BJT

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Misleading food labels may lead to unintentional consumption of significant amounts of potentially harmful trans fats, U.S. researchers warn.

The current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy regarding the way trans fats are labeled on food is misleading, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine said in a study published by LiveScience.com on Monday.

Because of the misleading information, people may be unknowingly consuming significant amounts of potentially harmful trans fats, the researchers noted.

A change should be made in the FDA policy, Eric Brandt, a researchers at the school, was quoted as saying.

The FDA policy allows foods that contain less than 0.5 grams of fat to be labeled as containing zero grams of fat. That's because the policy requires that fat amounts less than five grams be listed in 0.5 gram increments, and allows food producers to round down to the lower increment. Foods with more than five grams of fat are required to use one gram increments, according to the report.

This means if a product has 0.49 grams of trans fat, manufacturers can label its trans fat content as zero, the report said.

Consuming as few as three such food items could lead a person to exceed the recommended intake of 1.11 grams daily without knowing it, Brandt said. For example, consuming three servings of food labeled "zero trans fat," each of which actually contained 0. 49 grams of trans fat, would bring the total to 1.47 grams.

Trans fat consumption has been linked to increased risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and sudden cardiac death.

Research shows that increasing daily trans fat consumption from two grams to 4.67 grams, will increase a person's risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 percent.

The FDA should require food labels to report trans fat content in smaller increments, enabling consumers to recognize significant levels of trans fat in food and properly manage their consumption, Brandt said.

This change would increase awareness of the true amounts of trans fat in food, empower informed food choices, and improve public health outcomes, he said.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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