What are trans fats?
Trans fats (also known as trans fatty acids) are formed when hydrogen atoms are added to liquid oils (in a process called "partial hydrogenation") to form more solid fats like shortening and hard margarine.
Trans fats in food
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils work better in certain food applications (e.g., frying, baking, cooking) because they are more solid than oils. Thus, they give foods the desirable tastes, textures and keeping qualities people want and expect. They are often used in making vegetable shortening, margarines, baked goods, candies, fried foods and other processed foods. A small amount of trans fat also occurs naturally in foods such as beef, veal, lamb, and foods containing milk fat, such as butter, whole milk, cream, cheese and ice cream.
Trans fats and health
Before 1990 very little was know about trans fats' impact on health. In the 1990s research suggested that unlike other fats, trans fats raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. High LDL cholesterol levels in combination with low HDL cholesterol levels increases the risk of heart disease.
The 2010 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping the amount of trans fat consumed as low as possible, especially by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats. Similarly, the American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. For a person eating 2,000 calories a day, that means that no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fat—that's less than 2 grams of trans fat a day.
Kraft Foods initiatives
As part of our overall Health and Wellness initiatives, we continually work to enhance the nutritional profiles of our products, while delivering on consumers' expectations for quality and good taste. As a result of these efforts, numerous Kraft Foods categories, including Desserts, Meals and Oscar Mayer products have been reformulated. Many favorite Kraft Foods brands, such as Kraft Easy Mac and Jell-O Pudding Snacks are now labeled as containing 0g trans fat per serving.
Trans fats on the label
Since 2006, the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels must include the amount of trans fats in the product.