Trans fat trouble

May 18, 2007

The health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a press release May 16 announcing that it filed a lawsuit against Burger King because it is the only leading restaurant chain that had not yet committed to eliminating trans fats from its menu. Indeed, media have been reporting on trans fat bans on a regular basis. This week, Applebees, Hooters and Starbucks all announced their plans to remove trans fat from the foods they serve, according to various media outlets. New York City and Philadelphia were the first cities to pass laws getting trans fat out of restaurants. According to media reports, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland on May 15 unanimously passed a resolution to ban the use of trans fats in most foods served in local restaurants and in prepared food at supermarkets.

These developments would be applauded by Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr and Anna Jones, editors of Nutrition Perspectives, a bimonthly newsletter from the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. (Back issues are online. Current issues are only available to subscribers in hard copy form.) An article in the March/April 2007 edition provides objective, scientific information about trans fatty acids and their effect on cardiovascular disease risk. In short, the article says people should not eat trans fat and they should not substitute unhealthy saturated fat for the trans fat in their diets.

The article, written by Jones, debunks common concerns about trans fatty acid bans. "The main concerns are that a decrease in (trans fatty acids) content in foods would result in a rise in saturated fat consumption as well as a rise in cost and decrease in palatability and availability of foods," Jones wrote in the article. "However, Denmark banned the use of oils containing more than 2 percent trans fatty acids in 2004 and has not experienced those problems."

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist

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