Tag Archives: trans fats

The New York City Conundrum


Why are the restaurants in New York City so eager to implement the rule banning trans fat from their menu, but not the rule requiring them to publicly post the calorie content of the items on said menu?

Answer: There’s positive economic value in removing trans fat (good PR), but negative value in posting calories (A Quarter Pounder with Cheese has how many calories?).

If anyone needed an indication of the hypocrisy of the restaurant industry, this would be a good place to start.

For Jack: Girl Scout Cookies remove Trans Fats

Jack, over at Fork & Bottle, has made it a tradition to annually remind me and others of the trans fat found within my beloved box of Thin Mints. I never knew how to respond to his e-mails, because …wel.. They’re THIN MINTS! And I loves them so very much!

I’d then get accosted by the parents within my workplace, letting me know that if I didn’t purchase the thin mints, their daughters would call my voicemail and leave messages of tears and threats. Have you ever recieved a phone call with an 8 year old girl sniffling while warning you to becareful starting your car? It can be very disconcerting.

However, back to Jack. It appears as if his protests had reached the right ears.

The Girl Scouts have marked their 90th year in the cookie business by getting most of the artificial fat out of all varieties of their iconic treats, which had been under attack by a few health-focused consumer groups.

The change reflects a movement by the scouts in recent years to add an element of health consciousness to their annual bake sale.

This year, about half of all Girl Scout troops are also offering a sugar-free cookie called the Little Brownie. A cookie with reduced saturated fat, the Cartwheel, was introduced last year.

Phew! I can now drive to work without having to inspect my car’s ignition set.

Philadelphia bans Trans fats

The city of cheesesteaks seeks to give the appearance of preventing clogged arteries:

Philadelphia’s ban on the use of such products begins to take effect on Sept. 1, when restaurateurs will no longer be permitted to fry foods in trans fats or serve trans fat-based spreads. By Sept. 1, 2008, trans fats will be banned in all other types of food prepared in Philadelphia eateries. The ban will not apply to pre-packaged foods – such as a Tastykake Krimpet – sold in city stores and eateries.

As an aside: Yeah, I know I’m kinda mailing it in today on the blog posts. But it’s Friday, and I got some major posts lined up for next week.

Technorati Tags: Trans Fats, Philadelphia

New York City passes trans fat ban

via Slate.

The Interesting part?

The ban contains some exceptions; for instance, it would allow restaurants to serve foods that come in the manufacturer’s original packaging.

That means a restaurant, let’s say a burger joint, can’t make french fries with hydrogenated oils, but they can sell Potato Chips made by another company.

Can you say ‘Double-Standard’?

Technorati Tags: Trans+Fat

Compare and Contrast: Trans fat Bans

Compare and contrast the following two stories:

KFC bans trans fat vs. New York looking to ban trans fat

What’s the difference here? One is a corporation reacting to market forces, the other is a government institution legislating diet and menus in restaurants. Which is the best solution in reducing trans fat intake in our citizenry?

It’s a question to which I don’t have an easy answer. My preference is for the former, but I understand that there are times that there is a need for the latter.

But first, some information – while the majority of trans fat nowadays are created by the processed food industry, it’s important to note that there are some trans fats that occur naturally, specifically amongst the milk and fat of ruminants (ie. cows, sheep, goats, etc). That means butter, milk and cheese from these ruminants all have some measure of trans fat, called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). I don’t believe that anyone wants to go down the path that leads to the banning of milk, butter or cheese in restaurants.

What I believe the intent of the ban is to reduce or restrict items made with partially hydrogenated unsaturated plant fats (oils)…think margarine or Crisco, although there are many other products in this vein, including industrial agri-products that most food consumers likely have never come across, as they are added to things like Oreos, Fritos and Twinkies a long time prior to ending up at the supermarket.

So in reality, what people should be talking about is a ban on partially hydrogenated unsaturated plant fats and NOT a ban on trans fats, because the former is only a subset of the latter. Because of this misuse of language and misunderstanding of fat definitions, it’s already strike one against any governmental ban.

The second strike comes from my own philosophy and biases: Supply the people with enough information and they can make decisions for themselves. Can a restaurant provide me with the information needed to make informed decisions? Absolutely. In fact, KFC did just that with their press release.

It should be noted that KFC has the resources to provide such press releases. My favorite teriyaki place down the street from me most assuredly does not have the funds or pull to get that kind of press. However, it is not impossible for said teriyaki restaurant to communicate what fats and oils are used in the back room.

Is not possible for all restaurants to keep a list (available upon request) that states the
fats used in each dish? Perhaps the restaurant owners out there could give me an idea on how feasible something like that could be.

I’m of the mind that for any industry that allows for a transparency in their business practices, the government should try to refrain from imposing it’s will upon them. The restaurant industry, where production techniques are nominally known and ingredients can be easily communicated; I can’t for the life of me see why we should ban foods. Contrast this against the production techniques and processes of the industrial farms I alluded to yesterday, which are hardly known.

What it boils down to for me is whether I want the ability to make the decision of what foods I eat (based off of the best possible information), or whether I want to have the government make that decision for me.

Technorati Tags: Trans Fats, Food Bans

What a Trans-fat ban looks like

I’m personally have yet to decide where I fall on a trans-fat ban. The libertarian in me is abhors the idea of the state inflicting food bans. The pragmatist in me sees this as only one in a plethora of changes that must be made in food behaviors. The sadist in me loves to see Kraft, Conagra and other notorious food-corps squirm.

At any rate, Denmark banned the stuff two years ago. Here’s a bit on what the food world is like over there today. It’s an anecdotal account, but still worth a look.

UPDATED: I was caught by the grammar police going sixty in a twenty-five mph zone.

Technorati Tags: Trans Fat

McDonald’s stubs toe, twice in one week

In the course of a slapstick comedy, it’s often funny to watch someone slipping on a banana peel. When the same person immediately slips on yet another, entirely new banana peel, it brings me to the point of outight chortling. Such is the flavor of my schadenfreude in regard to the latest McDonald’s news events.

First it was their admission that their french fries have more trans fat in them than initially thought. Now? Now it’s the fact that they use that wheat and dairy ingredients are used to flavor the french fries, a claim not previously made.

It cannot be a good week at McDonald’s corporate PR office.

The question is: Why does this matter?

If McDonald’s would quit trying to be something they are not, this wouldn’t be an issue. But as they desire to be all things for all people, they end up making promises that they can’t keep. Like the promise they made in 2002 to reduce trans fat in their products. When their chicken strips failed to meet their promise, McDonald’s was sued, and later settled out of court. Get ready for another suit, as French Fries were not indicted in the initial settlement.

The Dairy and Wheat bit, I’m not sure how much this will affect McDonald’s , as the new information is apparently in response to new FDA requirements in regard to labeling. However, if anyone can prove that McDonald’s advertized their fries as gluten-free, rest assured there’s another lawyer with The Golden Arch’s name on them.

Technorati Tags: Food, McDonald’s