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Don't Be Fooled By New Snack Food Deceptions

Most commercial chips--corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips--are high in trans fat, which is why they are some of the worst foods you can possibly eat. Fortunately, some companies have caught on to the recent media blitz about the dangers of trans fat and have started to produce chips without trans fat. Nevertheless, the high temperatures used to cook them will potentially cause the formation of carcinogenic substances like acrylamide, and this risk remains even if the trans fat is removed.

That's one of the reasons a number of food manufacturers are attempting to transform the risk of eating their fast food into a benefit.

Using the slogan, "a little shortcut to a healthier life," PepsiCo will tag more than 100 of its food and beverage products with green "Smart Spot" stickers that read "smart choices made easy."

Kraft Foods recently introduced 100 Calorie Packs of popular Nabisco snacks including Chips Ahoy! and Kraft Cheese Nips. The thinking: Help people watch calories.

However, products making the grade include some that wouldn't necessarily be considered healthy, such as baked Cheetos and baked Lays potato crisps. The thinking: Baked is better than fried. The stickers, appearing on the first products next week, will be fully rolled out by year's end.

A number of nutrition experts besides me aren't impressed. The stickers may encourage people to eat foods they "shouldn't be eating at all," says one nutrition professor.

And what constitutes a passing grade on a healthy fast food snack? The National Academy of Sciences recommends a healthy person gets no more than 20-35 percent of his or her calories from fats. Eating Baked Cheetos alone accounts for 34.6 percent while its fried counterpart clocks in a 56.3 percent.

USA Today September 3, 2004

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