Nowadays more and more Americans are reading the Nutrition Facts labels found on foods and beverages—but what if we weren’t getting the whole truth?
Even as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working toward a label makeover to help provide consumers with more clarity about the foods they are eating, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that many processed foods claiming to be free of harmful trans fats actually are not.
CDC experts analyzed more than 4,300 popular packaged foods available in grocery stores and found that 9 percent of the food items contained trans fats even though 84 percent claimed they were either “trans fat-free” or contained “0 grams of trans fat.” The reason has to do with the fact that manufacturers are allowed to round down anything less than 0.5 g of trans fat, which means consumers may be eating the unhealthy fats even when they think they aren’t.
Despite their harmful effects on human health, trans fats can still be found in many commonly bought products—including pre-packaged snack foods such as cookies, crackers and chips, as well as in microwave popcorn, cake mixes and frostings, packaged pudding, pie crusts, pancake and waffle mixes, non-dairy creamer, margarine and many frozen foods (including frozen pizza).
Based on their findings, researchers believe that not only should health officials do a better job of restricting trans fats in food products, but that yes—food labels need to be much clearer when it comes to representing the true amount as well as the health risks associated with trans fats.