As of January 1. 2006 the new federal trans fat labeling laws go into effect. A number of questions have swirling around what the labeling laws actually mean. An article in today’s New York Times answers a number of them.
Many people are under the impression that as of this Sunday every food on grocer’s shelves will have the trans fat content on its label. Not the case. The new law requires that any new labeling done after that date have the trans fat content listed. Many manufacturers have countless labels already printed that it will be perfectly legal to use until they run out and have to reprint.
Although some companies won’t have the new listing on labels until they use remaining label stock, most have made the change. F.D.A. officials said the agency will contact companies that aren’t properly labeling products…
What can you do if you see a product that you know contains a trans fat but isn’t labeled as such?
If consumers see an improperly labeled product, the F.D.A. recommends that they take a direct approach. “They might want to call the companies themselves,” said Dr. Barbara Schneeman, director of the F.D.A.’s office of nutritional products, labeling, and dietary supplements.
If the label lists trans fats, it’s obviously complying with the new law. If it doesn’t have a listing for the category Trans fats, then the company is still using the old labels.
What about restaurants? Do they have to list trans fats on their nutritional labeling?
The F.D.A. regulations don’t cover restaurant food, much of which is fried in oils that contain trans fat or are prepared with it.
As far as I’m concerned, the best way to avoid trans fats is to avoid processed food altogether and limit your forays into the restaurant world. I’m a firm believer that the single best thing you can do for your health is to spend more time in your own kitchen.