CSPI Calls for FDA Crackdown Against Deceptive Trans-Fat Claims

'0 Grams Trans' Labels Mislead Consumers about Foods High in Artery-Clogging Saturated Fat

March 16, 2006

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take enforcement action against companies making misleading trans-fat claims on food labels. CSPI says that any claim of “0 grams trans” on foods high in saturated fat is inherently misleading, since consumers might think such a product is good for one’s heart health. Manufacturers such as Sara Lee, Mrs. Smith's, and Nestle misleadingly label several of their products "0 grams trans," even though they have 4 to 11 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat. The FDA considers 4 grams and up to be a high level of saturated fat.

“Just because a food doesn’t have any trans fat doesn’t by itself make it a health food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Companies shouldn’t foster confusion by making trans-fat claims on foods high in saturated fat, and the FDA shouldn’t let them get away with it.”

The products described in CSPI’s complaint are:

* Mrs. Smith's Apple Pie: A prominent red banner over the brand name states "0g trans fat per serving." One serving of the product contains 7 grams of saturated fat.

* Mrs. Paul's Crunchy Fish Fillets: A banner stating "0 grams trans fat per serving" appears directly above the brand name. One serving of the product contains 5 grams of saturated fat.

* Spectrum: Organic All Vegetable Shortening: A yellow highlighted batter stating "0 grams trans fat" appears on the front label. One serving of the product contains 6 grams of saturated fat.

* Nestle Crunch Ice Cream Bars: A banner over the large-print word "Crunch" states that there is "0g trans fat!" One serving of the product contains 11 grams of saturated fat.

* Sara Lee Pumpkin Pie: The label states that the product has "zero 0g transfat." One serving of the product contains 4 grams of saturated fat.

The FDA currently prohibits food companies from making “saturated fat free” claims for foods that have virtually any trans fat. CSPI says the agency should have a corresponding rule prohibiting "0 grams trans" claims on foods high in saturated fat.


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