Packaged food labels will soon have information telling consumers the amount of trans fat they contain under new government regulations issued on July 9.

Trans-fatty acids are a component of fat found in all animal fats, from meat to butter. They are also made synthetically when food processors harden fat to make it more like butter in a process called hydrogenization. Trans-fatty acids are found in many products including meat, milk, cookies and chips.

Under the new FDA regulations, by Jan. 1, 2006, consumers will be able to find trans fat listed on food nutrition labels directly under the line for saturated fat. The new information is the first significant change on the Nutrition Facts panel since it was established in 1993. The Agency intends to promote consumer awareness and understanding of the health effects of trans fat as part of an educational program.

In addition, FDA will publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on July 11, 2003, to address additional issues included in the Nov. 17, 1999, proposal but not included in the final rule. The ANPR will solicit comments and additional consumer research to establish criteria for:

  • Nutrient content claims for trans fat;
  • Qualifying criteria for trans fat in certain nutrient content and health claims;
  • Disclosure and disqualifying criteria for trans fat on product labels.

The new requirements are included in final FDA regulations that will be published in the Friday, July 11, Federal Register. For more information on trans fats, go to: http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/transfat/.

American Meat Institute