You’re shopping in the grocery store and pick up box of cake mix, read the nutrition label see there is a big zero (0 ) next to trans fats (this you can read even without the aid of your reading glasses which are sitting home on the counter). You toss the mix into your shopping cart and continue shopping.
Later in the week, you want to surprise the kids with cake. Armed with reading glasses, you briefly look to confirm that indeed there are no trans fats. (Yep, there’s the big 0g in the trans fat column.) Now you peruse the ingredients before reading the preparation instructions and…lo and behold…the third ingredient in this cake mix is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Wait a minute! That’s trans fat!
How could that be? How can the nutrition label display 0 trans fats and the list of ingredients clearly place trans fat as the third ingredient? As we know from my earlier article Trans Fat 101 that “According to the FDA, ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance according to weight. ” This is a major concern since partially hydrogenated soybean oil is listed third in the cake mix.
1/2 Percent Equals Zero Trans Fats?
Well my friends, I feel your pain as this has happened to me. I was rather annoyed so I wrote to the cake mix manufacturer about the discrepancy. Their response stated “If the amount of trans fat is less than ½ % it would listed as zero.” (Ignore the obvious omission of the word ‘be’ – a direct quote is a direct quote). They included a coupon with a maximum value of $3.99 so that I may purchase more of their product.
Hmmm, I read the letter and thought again. ½ a percent? Hydrogenated fat is weighing in as the third ingredient? That doesn’t make sense. So, I sent another letter asking them to clear my confusion. Does the ½ percent rule apply to the whole cake or is it ½ percent of trans fat per serving (according to the nutrition label there are 12 servings per cake)?
Their response: “If the amount of trans fat is less than ½%, per serving, it would listed as zero” (interesting, same grammatical mistake as the earlier letter, oh well a direct quote nonetheless).
Do you or your children ever eat one twelfth of a piece of cake at one sitting? My teen aged son believes that a ‘small’ piece of cake is approximately one quarter of the cake. Just how many grams of trans fats are contained in a quarter of a cake? We don’t know and the manufacturers are not telling us.
My Advice when it Comes to Trans Fats
- Read nutrition labels and list of ingredients thoroughly
- Zero grams of trans fats may not be zero grams of trans fats.
- Keep an extra pair of reading glasses in your pocket or purse.