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Labeling the Hero in Trans-Fat Battle

Labeling the Hero in Trans-Fat Battle

In a positive sign for Americans’ health and waist lines, the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in Americans is declining, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control. The study found a 58 percent decrease in participants’ TFA levels  between 2000 and 2009.  The USDA recommends consuming as little trans fat as possible, as it is an indicator for heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. While small amounts of trans fats are found in meat and dairy products, trans fats are mostly found in processed foods and are not needed to maintain human health.

Labels to the Rescue?

Starting in 2006, the FDA required that food manufacturers list the amount of TFAs on labels. While this has been a positive step and led to many manufacturers reformulating their products in a healthier way, consumers still cannot be certain that they are not consuming any trans fat. Current law states that labels need to indicate if a product has .5 grams or more of trans fat per serving; less than .5 grams and the product can be labeled as having zero trans fat.

Better Labeling to Cut Food Waste?

Giving consumers full and clear information on the foods they eat clearly may have benefits beyond health and wellbeing. The British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced an initiative to inform people about proper freezing techniques in a bid to reduce needless food waste.  A UK government waste advisory group found that 60 percent of those surveyed believed that food must be frozen on the day it is purchased, which is not the case. As long as the food is frozen by its “use by” date and is kept properly frozen, it should be perfectly safe while drastically reducing  waste and expense. Researchers estimate that changing the food labels’ freezing advice could save as much as 800,000 tons (worth $3.1 billion) of usable food every year in the UK.

In the U.S., date labeling on food is generally not required by the federal government, and there are many kinds of labels that could confuse the consumer: including Use By, Sell by, Best If Used By, etc. The USDA’s website states, “If product has a “use-by” date, follow that date. If product has a “sell-by” date or no date, cook or freeze the product by the times on the chart below.” The amount of ‘safe’ time after the sell-by date ranges from 1-2 days for sausage and poultry to 3-5 weeks for eggs.

 

Related Stories: 

New Labels Could Help Shoppers Avoid Unhealthy Foods

FDA Should Label GE Foods

Read more: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image by Mykl Roventine via Flickr, CC license

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51 comments

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9:49PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

More thorough labeling is always better.

5:25AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Labels are a great help, as long as you can be sure that the information is accurate and truthful.

7:33PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

Many companies are replacing hydrogenated vegetable oil with palm oil- palm oil is solid at room temperature- therefore it is saturated and NOT good for you! But even worse, palm oil plantations are planted after the rain forest has been destroyed- leaving orangutans and tigers at the mercy of poachers.

4:39PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

Thank you for sharing this information.

9:39AM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Anyone know any age dating site can be better ?
age is nothing but just a number.My husband and me both think so ,He is almost 10year older than me .i met him via~~--MIXedSingle .COM~~ a nice place for younger women and oldermen, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other,maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends...i saw the ads on tv , i love it !

10:15PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

I always read the labels. I've put things back on the shelf if the label lettering is so small it can't be read. I can understand why a lot of people don't read the labels, you sometimes need to bring a magnifying glass to read them.

7:36PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

Even laissez faire advocates should support labels. An uninformed consumer is not a sovereign consumer.

7:22PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

Labelling does not solve our problems, but it helps a lot, especially when consumers are informed...

3:59PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

People are more aware now about food labels and I see lots of folks reading them in the grocery store..and I do too..I just don't know what everything means .. is definitely an education!

1:54AM PST on Feb 17, 2012

thanks

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