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New Food Choices Free of Trans Fats Better Align U.S. Diets With Health Recommendations

by Ilya Rahkovsky, Stephen Martinez, and Fred Kuchler

Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-95) 39 pp, April 2012

Cover image for eib95 Federal agencies that are charged with giving dietary advice to consumers—the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—recommend that consumers keep their intake of trans fatty acids as low as possible. To that end, Federal regulations now require food labels to say how many grams of trans fats are in each serving. In this report, we examine recent changes in the trans fats content of new food products and the use of “no trans fats” package claims. We find a marked decline in the trans fats content of new food products from 2005 to 2010, along with an increase in the use of “no trans fats” claims on product packages. We also find that only a small minority of foods that contain no trans fats make such claims even though the use of a “no trans fats” claim is associated with higher rates of successful market penetration in a majority of product categories. In addition, new products without trans fats generally contain less saturated fat, sodium, and calories, which suggests that the reduction of trans fats was not compensated by increases in these other nutrients.

Keywords: trans fats, new products, nutrition, claims, labels, information

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Last updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012

For more information contact: Ilya Rahkovsky, Stephen Martinez, and Fred Kuchler