ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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As Trans Fat Bans Take Effect, Standards Analyze Content Claims

New York, Jan 03, 2007

Beginning today, java-giant the Starbucks Corporation has eliminated trans fats from all baked goods in half of its stores nationwide. The announcement follows on the heels of last month’s New York City Board of Health ruling to ban trans fat in restaurant food—a bid which placed New York on the map as the first large city in the U.S. to impose such a rule. The decisions come amid growing industry-wide pressure from health agencies, advocacy and consumer groups to address the surge of rising obesity and cholesterol in the United States with stricter guidelines governing its use.

Trans fats, or trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and other serious health conditions. While they occur naturally in small quantities in meat and dairy products, the majority of trans fats consumed are created as a by-product of partially hydrogenating unsaturated plant fats for use in many processed foods. Because of the serious health concerns associated with their use, trans fats are strictly regulated in several countries and are the center of several lawsuits against fast food chains in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—the U.S. agency responsible for regulating the labeling of most food products— requires the disclosure of trans fat content on the nutrition facts panel of many foods and some dietary supplements. To help consumers make healthy choices when shopping for groceries and dining out, the FDA ensures that nutrition information is accurately and truthfully represented as reflected by test results of nutrient content and fat composition analysis.

International standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) can help to determine trans fatty acids content. ISO 661:2003, Animal and vegetable fats and oils - Preparation of test sample, describes procedures for preparing test samples of animal or vegetable fats and oils for the purpose of analysis. ISO 15304:2002, Animal and vegetable fats and oils - Determination of the content of trans fatty acid isomers of vegetable fats and oils - Gas chromatographic method, specifies a method for analyzing the amount of trans fatty acid isomers in vegetable oils and fats. Using a single capillary gas chromatographic procedure, the method evaluates the level of trans isomers formed during high temperature refining or the hydrogenation of vegetable oils or fats. The standard can also be used to obtain and report the full fatty acid composition and total amounts of saturated fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids from the same sample.

Both standards were developed within ISO Technical Committee 34, food products, and its subcommittee on animal and vegetable fats and oils.

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