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Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
Date:6/30/2008

ntext," Howlett said. "The information is there if consumers want to find it, but most consumers aren't highly motivated to sit at the Web and find out exactly how many calories and grams of fat and trans fat are in [restaurant] products."

The consequences of not knowing can be tough on the heart, however. According to a 2006 study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a typical three-piece combo meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken contains a whopping 15 grams of trans fat.

Diners in New York City will soon have an easier time avoiding trans fats in restaurants, however. Starting Tuesday, health officials there are banning trans fats from menu items in the nation's largest city. A similar ban goes into effect in Philadelphia in September.

Things are slowly getting better in the grocery aisle, too, with most of the country's biggest manufacturers of packaged and processed foods beating a quick retreat from the use of trans fats in their products. But trans fat is still a prime component in many products. For example, Digiorno's Garlic Bread Crust Pepperoni Pizza For One contains 3.5 grams of trans fat per serving, as well as 16 grams of saturated fat, according to its Nutrition Facts panel. And Drake's Coffee Cakes also contain 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving (2 cakes), the product's panel says.

All of this means more must be done to educate consumers about the dangers of any level of trans fat, Howlett said. She believes the FDA needs to learn from the current confusion around trans fat numbers, to help consumers better interpret the Nutrition Facts panel the next time a change comes around.

"If there's going to be further changes -- because who knows what they are going to find next -- there also needs to be some sort of guidance for consumers, to be able to evaluate this information," Howlett said. "We are trying to get the information there that consumers need to make an informed choice, at the time t
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