June 05, 2003
Nutritionist and medical dissatisfaction with the Agriculture Department's 11 year old food pyramid has led to several alternative models. In letters sent out May 28th, the White House urged the department to revise guidelines to point out that all fats are not created equally.
The goal would be to discourage consumption of trans fatty acid fats and encourage beneficial fats such as those found in fish and olive oil. Trans fatty fats are vegetable in origin but have been hydrogenated to make them more stable at room temperature for better spreadability such as in margarines, or for better shelf life such as in cookies and other baked and snack foods. Studies show trans fats can increase risk of heart disease.
New dietary guidelines could affect labeling laws and development of school lunch program meal planning. Currently there is no law to force disclosure of trans fats on food labels. A recent lawsuit by a lawyer in California attempted to ban Oreo cookies from the state because they allegedly posed a serious health threat to children. Foods high in trans fats such as pop tarts, fish sticks, candy, cookies and microwave popcorn are often marketed directly to children. The suit was later dropped.