An encouraging development in the world of food manufacturing. Food giant Cargill has shut a production line in Wichita, Kansas that has been manufacturing hydrogenated oils:
President of Cargill’s dressings, sauces and oils division Mike Venker said in a statement: “The demand for hydrogenated oils has decreased significantly as a result of trans fat reduction in foods, therefore leaving the plant underutilized. We made every effort to keep the production at the plant, but ultimately could not achieve acceptable production efficiencies.” [See Progressive Grocer]
And thank goodness for that. Despite the loss of jobs.
What you need to know:
Trans Fat is just plain EVIL.
It has been unequivocally shown to increase the chances of heart disease because it raises the levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, in our bloodstream. This leads to clogged arteries and other precursors of coronary ailments.
Trans fat is mostly man-made, and found in hydrogenated oils. These are vegetable oils that are “bombed” with hydrogen atoms in a process that makes them solid at room temperature (think margarine).
Since 2006, the FDA has mandated that the amount of trans fat in foods be labeled on product packages. In addition, several states and municipalities have banned the use of trans fat in restaurants.
Trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oil is most common in baked and fried foods, in which it can count for up to 45 percent of total fat content. It is cheaper to produce than healthier oils like canola or olive oil, provides food manufacturers with greater processing stability and gives foods a longer shelf life. Therefore, commercially produced shortenings in the US have traditionally contained high levels of hydrogenated fats.
But guess what, pressure from the FDA and local lawmakers had a positive effect. The food industry figured out a way to make the same foods without trans fat. In fact, over the last 5 years, demand for trans fat laden hydrogenated oils has declined by 75% percent in the US.
By the way, Cargill is one of the largest private companies in the US, dealing mostly in agricultural products such as grains, livestock, and eggs. If it were public, it would be in the top 10 companies of the Fortune 100 list. It has 160,000 employees worldwide and sold 120 BILLION dollars worth globally last year.
What to do at the supermarket:
We’re not safe yet. There are still plenty of foods out there with trans fat. Always check the nutrition panel for 0 trans fat, as well as the ingredient list to make sure there are no “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils“.
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