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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

19/05/2004

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

Soytech.com

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

New information from the FDA clears up consumer co
ATLANTA, May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest issue of FDA Consumer Magazine(March-April 2004) highlights the healthfulness of margarine products overbutter. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other leadinghealth organizations such as the American Heart Association and theNational Cholesterol Education Program recommend soft margarine in placeof butter, there has been consumer confusion surrounding margarine'shealthfulness -- mainly due to the trans fat issue. According to the FDAConsumer Magazine, "To help sort it out, the agency has created a Web sitewith helpful background on trans fats and how to use the new labeling toplan a healthful diet."

The FDA Web site ( http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/transfat.html ) advisesconsumers to "Choose vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils)and soft margarines (liquid, tub, or spray) more often because the amountsof saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are lower than the amounts insolid shortenings, hard margarines, and animal fats, including butter."Sample labels (provided on the Web site) show that, when the amount oftrans and saturated fat are combined, butter is not heart-healthy comparedto soft margarine or even compared to traditional stick margarine. Anonline pop quiz testing consumer knowledge about which spread ishealthiest also reinforces this message. The FDA Web site specificallyrecommends that consumers, "Look at the highlighted items ... Combine thegrams (g) of saturated fat and trans fat and look for the lowest combinedamount. Also, look for the lowest percent (%) Daily Value for cholesterol.Check all three nutrients to make the best choice for a healthful diet."

"We are glad to see that the FDA is helping to clear up confusionregarding margarine and trans fat," noted Richard Cristol, president ofthe National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM). "Althoughmargarine is clearly the healthier spread and is recommended by leadinghealth authorities," he said, "many consumers have become confused duringthe trans fat debate and have mistakenly returned to butter and increasedtheir intake of saturated fat and cholesterol."

According to NAMM-sponsored consumer research, many Americans are "flip-floppers," when it comes to nutrition, especially on the margarine vs.butter issue. Thirty nine percent of consumers who have heard conflictingor confusing messages about margarine have stopped eating margarine andare replacing it with something else. Of those individuals, 42 percent arenow eating butter. "This switch is definitely a negative when it comes toheart health and it demonstrates the importance of communicating thelatest nutrition findings carefully and clearly," said Beth Hubrich, aregistered dietitian and nutrition communications specialist for NAMM.

A number of studies have evaluated margarine as a whole food (as opposedto its individual components) and confirmed that consumption of softmargarine products results in much healthier blood cholesterol levels thanbutter. The most recent study, published in the Journal of the AmericanMedical Association, found that soft margarine significantly lowered totaland LDL cholesterol levels when substituted for butter -- in some cases asmuch as cholesterol-lowering medication.

The margarine industry has responded in recent years to consumer andhealth professional interest in lowering daily fat consumption levels bydecreasing the average fat content of its products by 40 percent. Today'smargarine category encompasses a wide variety of products, from tubs tosticks and even sprays and liquid margarines. Margarine products have beenreduced in total fat, saturated fat and trans fat over the past twodecades, and many soft, squeeze and spray margarine products are transfat-free.

To access the information provided in the FDA Consumer Magazine, visithttp://www.fda.gov/fdac/departs/2004/204_fda.html andhttp://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/transfat.html . For more information aboutthe healthfulness of margarine, including margarine vs. butter research,visit http://www.margarine.org .

The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM) is a non-profittrade association formed in 1936.

SOURCE: The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers

CONTACT: Keith Keeney, +1-404-252-3663, for The National Association ofMargarine Manufacturers

Web site: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/departs/2004/204_fda.html

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/transfat.html

http://www.margarine.org

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