As you’ve probably heard, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday its intent to ban artificial trans fats from the nation’s food supply.
That means partially hydrogenated oils will become food additives that could not be used in food without approval. Foods with unapproved additives cannot legally be sold.
Transfats are produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid. Companies began adding the ingredient to processed food (the process is called hydrogenation) in the 1950s to lengthen the shelf-life and enhance flavor and texture. It’s the stuff that makes pie crusts flaky, chips crispy, frosting spreadable and frozen foods tastier.
It’s also the stuff that clogs arteries and puts you at an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. That’s why the FDA wants it out of food altogether.
So, exactly which of your family’s favorite foods are going to be forced to change as a result of the trans fat ban? Many companies have already rid their foods of trans fats ever since the FDA said manufacturers have to put the amount on labels. New York City even banned trans fat from restaurant food in 2006. But, according to the FDA, there are still foods that rely on trans fats. Here’s a list of some popular trans fat products that may become illegal by the FDA proposal unless they change.
Microwave Popcorn 1 of 6
While most chips and cookies have drastically reduced the amount of trans-fat in their foods (Oreo banned trans fat in 2006) microwave popcorn is one of the top snacks that still contain a lot of trans fat. While popcorn can be a healthy snack, when you take into account what's going on in those buttery toppings, you may want to think twice about hoovering a bag until the FDA crackdown. An extra-butter flavor bag of Pop Secret has 5 grams of trans fat per serving, that's nearly 15 grams per bag! Jolly Time Blast 'o' Butter Popcorn delivers 4 grams per serving.
Popcorn at the movie theater will have to change too. Likely, they'll end up adding more butter, which means more fattening, to keep that popcorn flavor we've all grown to love.
Image source: JollyTime.com
Frozen Pizza 2 of 6
Any frozen food with many ingredients can contain trans fats. So frozen pizzas will have to change. The taste and consistency you've become familiar with may soon be a thing of the past. Many people are worried about what manufacturers will come up with to replace trans-fat. But, just like trans-fats, anything used to preserve foods for as long as some foods last isn't going to be healthy. Only time will tell...
Margarine and Shortening 3 of 6
In the past margarine was marketed as a less fattening, healthier alternative to butter because it's made from vegetable oil instead of dairy or animal products. Now thoughts on that have changed. The problem with margarine is that to maintain its solid form, many brands (especially stick varieties) need hydrogenated oils which makes them high in trans fats.
As Yahoo notes, steer clear of Shedd's Spread Country Crock Spreadable Sticks (2 grams trans fat per serving), Blue Bonnet Regular Sticks (1.5 grams per serving), Land O'Lakes margarine sticks (2.5 grams per serving), and Fleischmann's original stick margarine (1.5 grams per serving), and instead opt for whipped, reduced-fat, or fat-free soft spreads.
Image source: myopera.com
Coffee Creamers 4 of 6
Legally, manufacturers can say that a product containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fats has 0 trans fats. Each serving contains 0 grams trans fat, yet, for most flavors (even the fat-free and low-fat varieties), partially hydrogenated oils are the second or third ingredient listed. If you're slugging down a lot of coffee the amount of hydrogenated oils can really sneak up on you.
Frosting 5 of 6
Like margarine, frosting is notorious for containing a heavy dose of trans fats to keep it's spreadable, creamy consistency. Duncan Hines's frostings contain 1.5 grams per serving, while many Betty Crocker's frostings contain up to 2 grams.
Image source: dollargeneral.com
Cake and Pie Crust Mixes 6 of 6
Cake mixes, Bisquick, and other mixes all have several grams of trans fat per serving. Mixes like Keebler Ready Crust Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust and Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix list 2 and 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving respectively. And while Bisquick can be a parent's best friend when it comes to whipping up a quick meal, the original pancake mix still contains 1.5 grams trans fat per serving, so opt for the newer (and trans-fat free) Bisquick Complete, Gluten Free, or Heart Smart formulas.
Image source: eatathomecooks.com
- As WebMD notes, “Reach for the product whose label shouts “0 Trans Fats!” and what do you get? Maybe some trans fats. That’s because the FDA allows that label on anything with 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.”
- If the label lists Trans Fat as 0 g, look at the Ingredients List for the words “partially hydrogenated.” Any oil that is partially hydrogenated is a trans fat. So a single serving of cookies could have as much as a half gram of trans fat and be labeled “0 Trans Fats.” Be aware, too, that often a “single serving” is often less than an average person eats.
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