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Trans Fat Content of Some Foods Has Decreased

But labels on sweet and savory snacks can be misleading

FRIDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A recent marketplace survey shows that some foods that previously contained high levels of trans fat now have no or lower levels of trans fat, though some foods labeled as having no trans fat actually do have some amount of the fats, according to a report published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Matthew J. Albers, and colleagues at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis carried out a marketplace survey, purchasing foods in three categories: margarines and butters, cookies and snack cakes, and savory snacks (chips, crackers and popcorn) from a local Wal-Mart Supercenter. They relied on the labels to determine trans-fat and saturated-fat content and looked at correlations between fat content and an item's price.

The investigators found that the labels of most products in all the categories indicated 0 g of trans fat per serving. However, some products contained substantial amounts of trans fat, including three of 40 savory snack products labeled as having 3 g of trans fat or greater. The products with the highest proportion of trans and saturated fats were butters (58.8 percent), followed by popcorns (56.8 percent initial sample, 52.5 percent including follow-up sample), cookies (44.9 percent) and snack cakes (44.4 percent). Price was inversely correlated with decreased amounts of saturated and trans fats.

"In summary, it appears that the food industry has made progress in reducing trans-fat content in a variety of products. However, consumers need to read product labels because trans-fat content of individual products can vary considerably," Albers and colleagues conclude.

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