Label Loophole: Why Trans Fat-Free Foods Are Often Far From It

Trans fats are bad news—it’s undisputed. Most doctors agree that there is no safe limit for ingestion. They raise bad cholestreol (LDL), lower good cholesterol (HDL), increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, and have been linked to type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

As more of us realize that trans fats should never be eaten, food manufacturers are labeling foods as “trans fat free” or “0g trans fat.” One would think this means there are no trans fats in the products, right?


Many products that claim to be "trans fat free" on the label actually have trans fats in their ingredients.

Trans fats can be disguised on labels as the following ingredients:

•   Partially hydrogenated oils
•   Hydrogenated oils
•   Shortening
•   Mono and di-glycerides 

Products like Land O' Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste Spread, Triscuit Thin Crisps Crackers, and Flintstones Multi Vitamins state "0 trans fat" on their nutrition facts panel, but if you take a closer look at their ingredients, you can see how they all contain trans fats. Here is how you can tell (all the trans fats ingredients are circled in red below):

Land O Lakes trans fats, margarine, butter, trans fats

Land O' Lakes Buttery Spread says zero trans fat on the label but it contains:

•   Partially hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean oil
•   Hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean oil
•   Hydrogenated [GMO] Cottonseed oil

Triscuit Thin Crisps also claims to be free of trans fats, but not according to its ingredients label, which reads:

Triscuit ingredients, Thin Crisps, trans fats

As you can see, it has:

•   Hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean [GMO] Cottonseed oils

Label Loophole

So why are food manufacturers allowed to state zero grams of trans fats when trans fats are listed in the ingredients? It's because of a label loophole that allows companies to write "0 trans fat" on the nutrition facts panel if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving. I repeat, PER SERVING!

So, let's do the math: each serving of Triscuits Thin Crisps is 10 crackers. If you ate one box a month, that would equal 60 grams of trans fats per year (Note: there are 10 servings in each box).

To truly keep deadly trans fats out of your diet, always read the ingredients FIRST and THEN the nutrition facts panel. Avoid trans fats at all costs because there is no safe amount of this deadly fat.

Pictured below are some of the ingredient lists of the products on the table in the video. We circled all of the trans fats ingredients in red, but please keep in mind, many of the products also contain other harmful chemicals that appear on both our Scary Seven and Also Beware Of infographics (including GMOs).

Flintstones Multi Vitamins - Chewables

   Hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean Oil

Swiss Miss Classic Marshmallow Hot Cocoa Mix

Swiss Miss, Trans fats


•   Hydrogenated Coconut Oil

Skinny Cow Heavenly Crisp Candy Bar

Skinny Cow Ingredients, Trans fats

•   Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

•   Partially Hydrogenated Palm Oil
•   Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

Ritz Cheese 'n Crackers - Processed Cheese Product and Crackers

Ritz Crackers ingredients, trans fats

•   Hydrogenated [GMO] Cottonseed oil

Snickers Bar

snickers bar ingredients, trans fats


•   Partially Hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean oil

Peter Pan Peanut Butter with Vitamins and Minerals

trans fat, trans fats, peanut butter Peter Pan

•   Hydrogenated [GMO] Vegetable Oils Cottonseed and Rapeseed (Canola)
•   Partially Hydrogenated [GMO] Cottonseed Oil

Cold Stone Creamery Smooth Cravings Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix


•   Partially Hydrogenated Coconut Oil

Note: Please do not confuse partially hydrogenated coconut oil with organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil. The latter is what you want to look for when shopping for coconut oil.

Read more about why coconut oil is good for you

Tops Fun Stripes Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly

trans fats, trans fat, peanut butter


•   Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed, [GMO] Cottonseed, [GMO] Soybean)

Kellogg's Special K Chocolatey Delight Cereal

trans fats, kellogg's cereal


•   Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

Hamburger Helper Italian Supreme Cheese Pizza

trans fats, hamburger helper


•   Partially Hydrogenated [GMO] Soybean Oil


Image credits: Andrea Donsky

By Andrea Donsky| June 12, 2013
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  EatFood Labels

About the Author

Andrea Donsky

Andrea Donsky

Founder & Chief Passionista at See my full bio here.

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