Mmmm... 64 Grams of Partially Hydrogenated Oil

March 9, 2005

I am fascinated by the food industry, in particular the use of science to develop consistent results in the packaged and fast food markets. Developing these foods seems to be balancing antagonistic forces of nutrition, taste and consistency. Now, as the public is becoming aware of the nutritional dangers of partially hydrogonated oil and trans fats, manufacturers are finding it worthwhile to develop alternatives.

The NY Times: Fat Substitute Is Pushed Out of the Kitchen: "An artificial fat once embraced as a cheap and seemingly healthy alternative to saturated fats like butter or tropical oils, partially hydrogenated oil has been the food industry's favorite cooking medium for decades. It makes French fries crisp and sweets creamy, and keeps packaged pastries fresh for months." Now serving no trans fat!: "In the past few months, I've gotten sucked into the newest food fear: trans fat. The artery-hardening enemy du jour is a fat that's now thought to be so incontrovertibly bad for you that even the notoriously laissez-faire Bush administration recently advised citizens to consume as little of the stuff as possible."

Univ. of MD Med Center: Trans Fats 101: "Trans fats are artificial fats made when hydrogen gas reacts with oil. They can be found in cookies, crackers, icing, potato chips, margarine and microwave popcorn."

Tufts News: Tracking Trans Fat: "“Trans fats are scattered all over our food supply,” said [Alice] Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition at Tufts’ Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Found in over 42,000 food products, the average American consumes close to five grams of the substance a day – while evidence suggests even one gram is too much for a healthy diet."

Ban Trans Fats: About Trans Fats: "Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process used to make a perfectly good oil, such as soybean oil, into a perfectly bad oil. The process is used to make an oil more solid; provide longer shelf-life in baked products; provide longer fry-life for cooking oils, and provide a certain kind of texture or 'mouthfeel.' The big problem is that partially hydrogenated oil is laden with lethal trans fat."

NY Times: McDonald's Settles Trans Fats Lawsuits: "McDonald's agreed yesterday [Feb. 11] to pay $8.5 million to settle two lawsuits accusing it of misleading consumers about the levels of trans fat in its food."

After reading all about trans fat, I could really go for a donut now... hmmm, maybe not...

Posted by Andrew Raff at March 9, 2005 10:55 PM
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