April 11, 2005

When Zero != Zero

Because of the FoodNerd, I spend a lot more time paying attention to what I'm buying at the store than I used to.

I look for organic products, the grain-fed/antibiotic-free meats, and while, for years, I've looked at the nutritional info on most of the packaged food that I buy (originally to check for fat, then sodium), now it's all about trans fats -- the partially hydrogenated oils that seem so pervasive in our food supply.

It's really depressing to discover how many things we eat actually contain the stuff. I went through the candy bar aisle at Costco a while back looking for a cheaper alternative to the Balance bars and new Snickers marathon energy bars (which will run you almost a buck a pop), and just about everything had some kind of partially hydrogenated oil. (I ended up buying a large bag of peanut M&Ms.)

So, I had heard that several manufacturers were making the effort to take the trans fats out of their product lines (and adding a "trans fat" entry into the nutritional information table), so I've been dutifully checking the ingredients lists of some of my guiltier pleasures. Not much luck there.

Oreos? Trans fats.
Twinkies? Trans fats.
Doritos? Trans fats.

Now, here's the rub: I've checked the ingredients list on a bag of Doritos before and was sad to have to put the bag back when I hit the partially hydrogenated something-or-other. (replaced by a bag of Tostitos -- ingredients: corn, oil, salt.) So, how psyched am I when I notice the words "no trans fats" on the label on my most recent trip to the 'Co? And I turn the bag around and halfway down the ingredients list, I see it again: partially hydrogenated blahbity-blah. Then I look at the nutrition label:

trans fats 0g


Now I'm wondering if I'm confused about what trans fats are. So I check the web when I get home. Ok, partially hydrogenated oils are trans fats... what gives?

Then I get to Frito-Lay's page:

- The list below provides you with many choices of Frito-Lay snacks that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving. In some of our seasonings, there are trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, but in all cases, the amount of trans fat is so small that it is considered dietarily insignificant by the FDA, or equal to 0 grams of trans fat for the FDA labeling regulations.

At this point, I'm wondering what the exact wording on the bag was.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but to me, zero means, well, zero. As in none. nada. zip. It's misleading, and saying that the FDA considers it "equal to 0 grams" sounds as stupid to me as the "Indiana Pi bill" that tried to legislate the value of pi.

But I guess that's just how my brain works.

Given that I'm already making a concession in buying the Shawr's/Stah Mahket oatmeal raisin cookies (because, well, they're just too damn good), I can probably manage to eat a few Doritos without coming to harm. (Or at least, not any more harm that I'm already bringing upon myself.)

But I can still be annoyed.

Posted by tallasiandude at April 11, 2005 05:05 PM

Yes! I ranted about the trans fats in Girl Scout cookies (in the link), and love to have found a like-minded soul.

You can even find that stuff in Gatorade of all places. Crazy, man, crazy.

Posted by: molly at April 13, 2005 01:18 PM

Naw, if it says it has 0, then that means it has some. Like non-alcholic beer, it has alcohol in it. That's the Industry in our food screwing things up. Pinheads.

Posted by: Dr. Biggles at April 13, 2005 03:46 PM

Actually that's the FDA giving the Industry what it wants. Frito Lay's admission sounds voluntary.

Posted by: supefancy8 at April 21, 2005 05:00 PM

Hi.I'm on a weight management lifestyle change.
That means NO BEER!!So,I've started drinking a few
O'duls or Beck's non-alcholic beer.Can anyone tell
me if that product is detrimental to my weight control goals??
Thanks, and I'm hoping someone can help.


Posted by: Paul at January 27, 2006 07:00 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?