When the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month announced rules that would limit the use of partially hydrogenated oils—so-called trans fats—health advocates rejoiced. Trans fat has long been recognized as leading to heart disease. That link has been so clear for so long that loads of food manufacturers and restaurants stopped using the stuff ages ago.
Yet the stuff continued to lurk in the food supply just like it lurks in your arteries. French fries from fast-food joints have long been notorious for containing trans fat (although levels have fallen dramatically in recent years.) But it turns out there are some far less obvious foods where trans fats are used.
Here's a list of some of the brands that have continued to use trans fats and which now might be forced to find alternatives.
1. MICROWAVE POPCORN
Microwave popcorn brands are among the more flagrant users of trans fat you'll find in your local supermarket. Brands such as Pop Secret, owned by Diamond Foods, and Jolly Time, owned by American Pop Corn Co., both use the ingredient. That's not all that surprising. Finding a substitute that works in microwavable popcorn apparently isn't easy. ConAgra spent years developing a replacement for trans fat to use in its Orville Redenbacher brand.
Ready-to-use frostings are another place you'll likely find trans fat. Pillsbury's Classic White has 1.5 grams in a 2 tablespoon serving. Rival Betty Crocker has that same trans fat load in many of its Rich and Creamy brands. Duncan Hines frostings contain 1.5 grams.
3. FROZEN FOODS
Frozen foods are another area thick with trans fats. ConAgra's Marie Callender brand has as much as 4.5 grams per serving in some of its ready-to-eat pies.Marie Callendar also has at least four types of frozen meals made with at least a half gram of trans fat per serving. Kid Cuisine uses trans fat its All American Fried Chicken meal. And some flavors of Haagen Dazs have a half gram per serving. But that may not be as worrying, since there can be naturally occurring trans fats in dairy products.
Margarine sticks can contain levels that are quite high ...which seems particularly worrisome since many consumers turn to margarine because of health worries about butter. Among the brands with high trans-fat levels are Land O'Lakes margarine sticks, with 2.5 grams per serving; Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Spreadable Sticks, 2 grams per serving; and both Blue Bonnet Regular Sticks and Fleischmann's original stick margarine, with 1.5 grams per serving.
We won't be sad to see any of these products disappear from grocers' shelves.The bottom line is that for consumers, the FDA's ruling will lead to lower heart risk. But for retailers it could mean the loss of some favored brands. And for food manufacturers, it could lead to some headaches and higher costs. Here's hoping the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
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