The Food and Drug Administration this week said that partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats in food, are no longer generally considered safe in foods. Trans fats have been a health concern for years, yet they linger on the nutrition labels of several common foods.
The term “trans fat” has long been a dirty word for label-readers. But it wasn’t until this week that the Food and Drug Administration officially took away the "generally recognized as safe" label from the main source of trans fats—partially hydrogenated oils.
That means manufacturers have 3 years to eliminate PHOs from their products. That might seem like a simple task. After all, public pressure has already caused manufacturers to remove about 85% of trans fats from the food supply. Yet, a surprising number of foods still contain trans fats.
In a press release, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he doesn’t expect the trans fat ban to affect the taste of products. He pushed to phase out trans fats as mayor of New York from 2002-2013.
“[A]s soon as New Yorkers understood that taking trans fats out of a dish didn’t impact the way their favorite foods tasted, and restaurant owners understood that the ban didn’t hurt business, the measure was widely accepted,” he said.
So which foods are the stragglers?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has made something of a sport of shaming food companies that make products with trans fats. They say grocery store shelves are still lined with products with trans fats. What follows are 6 common products that still contain trans fats. The nutrional data come from the company’s websites, unless otherwise noted.
We’ll start of with perhaps the most obvious—margarine. When you spread it on your roll in the morning, you’re likely introducing trans fats into your breakfast. Blue Bonnet’s regular margarine sticks have 1.5 grams of trans fat per serving. And while Parkay’s website notes that some of its spreads have 0 grams of trans fat per serving, its margarine sticks also have 1.5 grams per serving.
As is true with so many things—that which looks good isn’t necessarily good for you. Frozen pies pack more than just whipped cream and chocolate. For instance, Marie Callender’s banana cream pie contains 1.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Its chocolate cream pie has 2.0 grams per serving. And lest you think it’s only a pie problem: Pepperidge Farm’s frozen 3-layer cakes also contain trans fats. Their coconut layer cake packs 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
The convenience of microwave popcorn is hard to beat
but perhaps you’ll be tempted to go back to old fashioned stovetop popcorn when you read the nutrition label. Jolly Time’s Jalapeño Butter popcorn has 5 grams of trans fat. Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter Popcorn is somewhat better, but not completely. It carries 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
Perhaps this one will come as no surprise, since it comes after frozen desserts, but canned frosting is another trans fat offender. Duncan Hines’ Homestyle Classic Vanilla frosting has 1.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Betty Crocker’s Rich and Creamy Coconut Pecan frosting has 1.5 grams per serving.
According to CSPI, Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage & Buttermilk Biscuits have 2 grams of trans fat per 2-sandwich serving. Meanwhile, Jimmy Dean’s Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissant sandwiches have 0.5 grams per sandwich.
Painful as it is to consider, even some types of ice cream contain trans fats. Specifically, CSPI has noted that Turkey Hill’s Party Cake ice cream has 1 gram of trans fat per serving. Take heart, though. Most of the company’s other ice creams have 0 grams per serving. Of course, “0 grams per serving” isn’t always the same thing as “no” trans fat.