FDA requires trans fatty acid labeling for foods and dietary supplements.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule requiring trans fatty acids content to be listed on the nutrition panel label of conventional food and dietary supplement products. Although the final rule is effective Jan. 1, 2006, the Agency is encouraging industry to modify labels as soon as possible--and expects many companies to do so soon.

This is the first

significant change that FDA has mandated for the Nutrition Facts panel since it was required in 1993. The current Agency action responds to a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 1994 requesting that the Agency take steps to require trans fat to be listed on nutrition labels.

'Bad cholesterol'

Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fats, are made during partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Hydrogenation is a process by which hydrogen atoms are added to unsaturated sights on fatty acids, thereby eliminating double bonds. Partial hydrogenation relocates some double bonds and hydrogen atoms end up on different sides of the chain. This type of configuration is called trans.

The Agency has concluded that published human studies show intake of trans fatty acids increase low density lipoprotein-cholesterol or LDL-C (known as "bad" cholesterol) in the blood, as does the intake of saturated fatty acids. Elevated LDL-C increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The Agency also concluded that listing trans fat under the total fat content line of the Nutrition Fact panel will help consumers realize that many popular food products contain significant amounts of trans fatty acids. U.S. consumers will learn to relate trans fatty acids with saturated fat and cholesterol and identify items to avoid in their diet.

Another line

FDA food labeling regulations currently require a line for total fat content on the Nutrition Facts panel, along with another line listing saturated fat content. This new regulation requires the addition of still another line, for trans fatty acid, which can be listed as either trans fat or trans. The trans fat content must be expressed as grams per serving to the nearest 0.5 gram increment if below 5 grams and to the nearest gram increment if above 5 grams. When a serving contains less than 0.5 gram, the content, when declared, must be expressed as "0 grams."

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