New Year Brings Required Trans Fat Labeling

When you look at the label printed on the back of your favorite food, it may leave you confused.

Saturated fats, trans fats, polyunsaturated fats, they all sound a little harmful, but how harmful are they?

Dietician Jody Peach says you do have to watch how much of these fats you eat.

"Someone at risk for heart disease, someone that has diabetes or a family history of heart disease, that's the type of person who needs to watch their trans fats," Peach said.

"However most people don't need that much fat. Everyone would benefit from eliminating trans fats."

Since 1993, saturated fats and cholesterol have been listed on labels, but Starting January 1st the FDA is requiring all food manufacturers to list how much trans fat, a type of fat created to extend the shelf life of processed foods like chips and cookies, on the label.

A rule Peach says is good, but could be confusing.

"I think its ok, I mean it gives people more knowledge but like I said it can be very confusing because some products may not have trans fats, but they still have saturated fats," Peach said. "People may be thinking that there making a good food choice by eating something with no trans fats, but it could still be high in saturated fats."

And when it comes to restaurants and fast food chains there is no regulation on how much trans fats they use.

According to a consumer advocacy survey, they have been much slower in cutting back on their use of frying and baking oils.

And it's those oils that could cause problems if eaten in excess.

Besides regulating trans fats, the federal government is also making it easier for folks who suffer from food allergies.

Starting January 1st manufactures must label eight allergy triggering substances in common language.

The "Big Eight," which account for 90 percent of food allergies in the United States, include milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

Instead labels saying words like "lactoferrin" the word milk will be used instead.

More than 11-million consumers suffer from food allergies, accounting for 30-thousand emergency room visits a year.

In addition, it's estimated that as many as 200 people die each year from food-allergy-related reactions.