On Your Side: Trans Fat Troubles

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April 11, 2007

The latest no-no to put in your diet is trans fat, and it may be in far more things than you think...including food that claims to be trans fat free.

If you buy a product that claims to not have a particular ingredient in it, you usually trust that to be true.

In all reality, you may want to be a little more skeptical of those labels.

When it comes to nutrition, Bill Poulson of Martinez plays close attention.

"With age comes cholesterol problems, blood pressure problems," he said.

That means watching calories and both saturated and trans fat grams in everything he eats. Not too long ago, he bought a package of Lender's Bagels. He was drawn in by the label.

"When I looked at the big block letters, it led me to believe there were no trans fats."

But then he took a deeper look at the ingredients one day and found something he didn't like.

"It says no trans fat, and it most definitely has trans fat in it."

What tipped Bill off was the partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which contains trans fat.

A dietician at MCG says eating trans fat increases your chance of coronary heart disease, which the FDA says is a major cause of death in the US each year.

And it's not just Lender's Bagels that do this. 12 On Your Side found other products on local grocery store shelves that claim to have no trans fat in them, but each has partially hydrogenated soybean oil clearly labeled as an ingredient.

We did a little digging. It turns out FDA regulations say as long as there's less than half a gram of trans fat in a product, the label can say zero trans fat.

It may not seem like much, but if you're trying to cut trans fat out of your diet, you can end up eating a bunch of it without even knowing.

The bottom line is, Bill knows these companies aren't breaking any laws, but he still feels it's deceptive and wants to see the rules changed.

"They shouldn't be able to put on the front of the package no trans fat," he said.

Kristen Jaskulsky, a dietician at MCG, says if you stick to the serving size on these products, it shouldn't cause you any problems.

It's just those times when you eat the entire box of crackers that you'll run into trouble.

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