Beware 'zero trans fats' label

THE United States Food and Drug Administration's move to ban trans fats is a step in the right direction for the protection of consumers ("US bans 'unsafe' trans fats in food"; Thursday, and "Consider ban on trans fats" by Mr Timothy Sipples; yesterday).

The old law allows food products to be labelled as having 0g of trans fats if they contain less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving.

Products sold in Singapore follow the same labelling system, but there is sometimes a badge prominently slapped on the product proclaiming it to be free of trans fats, even though there may be some trans fats amounting to less than 0.5g.

This is misleading to consumers whose daily breakfast meal consists of toast with a spread of margarine, as they may think they are on a diet free of trans fats.

The nutrition information labels on some European products listed as having 0g of trans fats come with a cautionary statement that the products may contain traces of trans fats.

Adopting the European system of labelling will allow consumers to make an informed choice.

Chin Kee Thou

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'Beware 'zero trans fats' label'. Print Edition | Subscribe