How to detect trans fats in food

Trans fats are a particularly nasty kind of artificial fat that have been used for many years because it has excellent texture, taste and shelf life. However, recent studies show that trans fats are far worse than even saturated fats, and there is no reason to consume any of them. Making a move to completely avoid trans fats would probably be a wise health decision. Here's how.

Do NOT pay attention to the advertising slogans on foods that say "No trans fats" or "0 grams trans fat per serving". Under FDA rules, if there is less than 1/2 gram of trans fat per serving, the manufacturer is allowed to round that down to 0 and say there is no trans fat. There is no reason to consume any trans fat, so you will have to look beyond the front label.
Look on the nutrition facts. If you see a number other than 0 in the trans fat row (near the top), put the item back on the shelf, make a note of the brand, and do not buy that product now or at any point in the future unless they change the recipe.

However, a 0g in that row does not mean the item has no trans fats! If there is less than 1/2 gram per serving, then the manufacturer is allowed to round the number down to 0, but that doesn't mean there is nothing!
Read the ingredients. If you see the word "hydrogenated" anywhere, put it back on the shelf. Some possibilities would be:
"Partially hydrogenated soybean oil"
"Hydrogenated cotton seed oil"
"Fully hydrogenated coconut oil"

Hydrogenation is the process that turns regular natural oils into trans fats. If the word appears on the ingredients list, it means that there are trans fats in the food item and you should avoid it.
If you are upset that a brand you enjoy uses trans fats, write a letter to the company explaining how you feel. You can often find personal contact information for high-ups in the company from the company's investor relations pages on their website. Let the company know that you no longer plan to purchase their item because it contains hydrogenated oil.

Copyright 2009 by Michael Nehring