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    You Ask, I Answer: Trans Fat Labeling/Margarines

    I read somewhere that manufacturers can claim “no trans fat” only if there is absolutely [zero grams of] trans fat in the product. Is that true [or are there loopholes]?

    Also, are there new means of hydrogenation that don’t create trans fats?

    [I ask because] some margarines claim [to have] no trans fats [and I don’t see how that can be].

    – Hemi W.
    Via the blog

    Since “no trans fat,” “trans fat free,” and “0 grams of trans fat per serving” all fall under the same loophole (watch the latest Small Bites YouTube video for more information,) you can’t always trust what a food product’s packaging says.

    The best way to find out if a given food contains trans fats is to scan the ingredient list for “shortening” and/or any “partially hydrogenated” oils.

    As far as new margarine products that truly ARE trans-fat free, they are made by a process known as fractionation, in which liquid oils are chilled until a solid part crystallizes and then filtrated for food processing purposes.

    Although fractionation does not result in the formation of any trans fats, fractionated forms of oils have higher levels of saturated fat than their non-fractionated counterparts.

    I know, I know — it’s always something, right?

    The truth is, an additional gram of saturated fat in a serving of cookies is certainly the lesser evil to a gram of trans fat.

    But here’s the takeaway lesson. Processed foods – whether they contain trans fat or fractionated oils – are best consumed as outliers in (rather than central components of) our diets.


    One Comment

    1. Hemi W said on September 27th, 2008

      Thanks for clearing up that confusion.

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