P.O. BOX 2120



August 15, 2008



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Efforts to Identify and Reduce Trans Fats in Foods Available at School


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines) provide key dietary recommendations for the general population to promote health and reduce the risk of major chronic diseases. These dietary recommendations encourage the increased consumption of specific foods groups such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk, while limiting dietary intake of certain other foods that are known to contribute to chronic diseases. Trans fats were identified as a nutrient of concern in the 2005 edition of the Guidelines. Trans fats are fats that have been artificially created through a process involving the hydrogenation of oils.


Specifically, the Guidelines make the following recommendations with regard to trans fats:

         Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300mg. per day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.

         Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.


Processed foods and oils provide approximately 80 percent of trans fats in the diet, compared to 20 percent that occur naturally from animal sources. The major dietary sources of trans fats, according to the Guidelines, are, in decreasing order: cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread, animal products, margarine, fried potatoes, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, and shortening. Since January 2006, manufacturers have been required to identify trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label.


This memo encourages school divisions to continue their efforts to identify and reduce the amount of trans fats in food purchased for the school nutrition programs, as well as other foods provided or sold to students during the school day, with the intent of eventually eliminating products that contain trans fatty acids produced in the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils.


To assist school divisions in working toward this goal, the Department of Education, Office of School Nutrition Programs, identifies the following resources:


Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, Key Recommendations and Chapter 6, Fats:


U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Questions and Answers About Trans Fats:


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dietary Guidelines Fact Sheet: Trim Trans Fats for Healthier School Meals:


American Heart Association, Face the Fats Restaurant Resources:


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the school nutrition program specialist assigned to the division, or Lynne A. Fellin, associate director of school nutrition programs and coordinator of Healthy Virginians initiatives, at (804) 225-2717 or by e-mail at