Did You Know?

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Major British supermarket chains are
banning trans fats from their products.
Wake up America and Canada!

On August 2, 2006, three big British supermarket chains, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda, announced that they will eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from the own-brand products by the end of 2006. Marks & Spencer has already stopped using partially hydrogenated oil in its food production. Waitrose has been removing partially hydrogenated oils from its foods since the beginning of 2004.

BanTransFats.com strongly encourages supermarkets in the United States and Canada to follow the British example. Surely American and Canadian consumers are entitled to the same health consideration as their British counterparts.

Click here and here for articles about the British announcement.

(Not all is perfect in Britain. Unlike the United States and Canada, Britain does not have trans fat labeling. Scientists at Oxford University have written a strong article in the British Medical Journal supporting the introduction of trans fat labeling in Britain. Britain should introduce such labeling as soon as possible. Click here for a report about the BMJ article.)

Consumer reports tests finds a
surprisingly high amount of trans fat
in Wendy’s French fries
(We think we may know why)

In August 2006, Wendy's announced that it had completed the switch to a new cooking oil that significantly cuts trans fats. All of Wendy's 6,300 U.S. and Canadian restaurants are now using the new blend of corn and soybean oil. However, there is a problem. Click here to read the Wendy's press release about the change.

Still serving trans fat

On November 2, 2006, Consumer Reports published the following findings:

In August fast-food chain Wendy's announced that it had switched to a healthier, nonhydrogenated cooking oil and had rid its french fries of nearly all trans fats. The change, according to the company, meant that the kid-sized fries and breaded chicken sold at all of Wendy's 6,000 U.S. restaurants had no unhealthy trans fats, while small, medium, and large french fries, once loaded with 5 to 7 grams of trans fats, now had just 0.5 grams.

Consumer Reports purchased large servings of fries from three Wendy's restaurants in Westchester County, N.Y., in early September. We sent the fries to an independent lab for fatty-acid analysis. We were surprised to find that the lab tests showed the fries contained significantly more trans fat than the 0.5 grams per serving claimed by Wendy's. To double-check the findings, we purchased fries from the same restaurants at the end of September and sent them to the same lab plus another independent lab for a second set of analyses, which confirmed our initial findings. The average amount of trans fat per serving was 2.5 grams.

When asked about the findings, Wendy's representatives said the company had rigorously tested and analyzed the fat content of its fries working with an independent lab. But our tests, based on the same method that Wendy's told us it used, throw doubt on the company's claims. The good news for Wendy's lovers is that the large fries we tested contained significantly less trans fat than the 7 grams they had before the announced cooking-oil change. And Wendy's large fries contain less than half as much trans fat as large fries from Burger King or McDonald's, which each had about 6 grams of trans fat in our tests. Wendy's fries also had a better overall fat profile, with slightly less saturated fat than Burger King's or McDonald's.

Click here to read the full article.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a Wendy's spokesman said its measurements are more reliable because its "far more extensive" testing was of samples from 12 french-fry suppliers, done by an independent lab and a cooking-oil supplier. The spokesman said Wendy's plans to test fries from all its Westchester restaurants to explain the discrepancy.

Here is BanTransFats.com's guess.

We believe that Wendy's fries are par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil in a factory before they reach the restaurant. The ingredients still include partially hydrogenated soybean oil or partially hydrogenated canola oil. Click here for the list of ingredients.

Wendy’s, like all other restaurants, uses the same finish oil in the restaurants for hundreds of batches. A restaurant may fry about 100, 200 or even 300 batches of French fries in the same oil.

When you fry French fries that contain partially hydrogenated par-fry oil, a bit of that oil passes into the finish oil. Thus, as hundred of batches of French fries are fried in the same finish oil, there will be a substantial build-up of partially hydrogenated oil in the finish oil. By the time you get to the 100th batch, there is quite a lot of partially hydrogenated oil in the finish oil. The solution is not to use French fries that are par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil, or to change the finish oil more frequently.

Perhaps Wendy’s did their trans fat measurement on a first batch fried in the new oil, or at least an early batch, not the 100th or later batch.

Additionally, as the oil is used for frying repeatedly, trans fatty acids are being created.

Clearly Wendy's has a problem that it must solve fast. It must make a full public disclosure about the problem and stop using French fries that are par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil as soon as possible.

Restaurant survey reveals
extent of trans fat problem

Canadian TV News (CTV) sent five popular restaurant or takeout foods to be analyzed for their trans fat content, in a bid to give consumers some idea of what they're eating.

The products were randomly selected, and other restaurants or take out stores that offer similar products that were not tested.

CTV found trans fats in every product that it tested:

• Five small chicken nuggets from a fast food chicken outlet contained nearly 4 grams of trans fat.

• An apple danish from a donut shop contained about 2.7 grams of trans fat.

• Two vegetable spring rolls from a Chinese takeout contained about 1.7 grams of trans fat.

• Just one fillet of battered fish from a fish and chips restaurant dinner contained about 1.2 grams of trans fat -- and that's not including the trans fat in the French fries.

• Even in pizza, which many might consider one of the healthier fast foods, you'd most likely ingest about 1 gram of trans fat in two slices -- most of it from vegetable shortening used to process the crust.

Based on a nurses' study out of Harvard, just one gram of trans fat is likely to increase the risk of heart disease by 20 per cent if consumed on a regular daily basis," says Prof. Bruce Holub of the University of Guelph.

Click here to read the CTV report.

The Atkins diet is
strictly anti-trans fat

The Atkins diet is strictly anti-trans fat. This is what the Atkins organization says about the subject:

"While Atkins critics have often taken aim at the program's liberal allowance of fat, particularly in the Induction phase, the Atkins Nutritional Approach includes no heart-damaging trans fats. In fact, on Atkins, trans-fat containing junk foods as well as margarine and vegetable shortening, are strictly avoided...."

The South Beach Diet is also strongly anti-trans fat.

Click here for further information about the Atkins view on trans fats.

Click here for further information about the South Beach Diet and trans fats.

A baking industry website advises the baking industry not to remove trans fat because consumers are not too concerned

Talk about half-baked advice! There is a baking industry website, bakingbusiness.com, that gives the following advice to bakers:

In spite of the media attention given to the "dangers" of trans fat in the diet, consumers do not seem to be greatly concerned. For now a wait-and-see attitude is justified. If consumers express a desire for no-trans products, and if the level of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in your product is high enough to affect the nutritional label, then a switch to no-trans shortenings might be necessary.

In other words, don't bother trying to remove the trans fat unless consumers make a fuss. Click here to see the website page with the quotation.

Honesty with consumers is the best policy

Many of you have written to food companies and received responses that are intentionally misleading and evasive. Well, one of our supporters, Clark Battle, wrote to World Wraps and received an HONEST response. Thank you World Wrapps for playing it straight with your customers. Here is the World Wrapps response. Other food companies, please take note, honesty is the best policy.

"Thanks for your email; I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, I needed to confirm with our chef to be sure I gave you get an answer for you.

Since we make all our own sauces, marinades and dressings with no preservatives and only use fresh vegetables and meats, it's easy to assure you nothing we make in the restaurant, i.e. the ingredients INSIDE the wrapps, contain any hydrogenated oil or "trans fats." So any bowlls (wrapps without the tortilla) are fine.

Our tortillas, however, are made fresh by an outside local tortilla company and two out of the three flavors we serve do contain a transfat additive: the roma tomato and the lowfat tortilla both have it. The Spinach Tortilla, however, does not contain any hydrogenated oils.

The tortilla company is currently working to replace this ingredient in both those products and hopes to have revised recipes for them eliminating the transfat by the end of the year. In the meantime, I suggest you either order your favorite items in a bowll or substitute a spinach tortilla.

Thanks again for writing in with your question and thanks for choosing World Wrapps!"

Lindy Holmes
Director of Marketing
World Wrapps NW

The Women's Health Initiative study is meaningless about the health effects of fats

Many of you will have heard about the Women’s Health Initiative study. The media has been touting it as proof that low fat diets don’t prevent heart disease or heart attacks. Unfortunately, the media is way off base and misinforming the public.

In the study, 48,835 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years were randomly assigned to an intervention group or comparison group. The intervention group was asked to reduce total fat in their diets.

By year 6, the intervention group had decreased total fat intake by 8.2% of energy intake relative to the comparison group, with only a very small decrease in saturated fat - just 2.9%. This was not enough to make a difference. Partially hydrogenated oils should have been eliminated completely, as we recommend, and saturated fat should have been reduced by much more than a mere 2.9%.

Moreover, the two good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) were decreased in the intervention group. These two good fats actually help to prevent heart disease and heart attacks. They were decreased because this was designed as a study about cancer, not about heart disease and heart attacks. In fact, in any study about the effect of fat on heart disease and heart attacks, these two good fats should be increased - or at least not decreased. Decreasing the good fats would tend to cancel the beneficial results of decreasing the bad fats.

Even with the tiny 2.9% insignificant decrease in saturated fat, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and diastolic blood pressure "were significantly reduced" according to the authors of the study! The authors also noted that “trends toward greater reductions in [coronary heart disease] risk were observed in those with lower intakes of saturated fat or trans fat...." It is a shame that much of the popular media has chosen to ignore these findings.

Click here for San Francisco Chronicle article: "Trans fat ignored in study that bashed the low-fat diet - Doctors: types of dietary fat, weight loss not factored."

Click here for another critique of the study.

Clich here for a critique of the misleading media coverage of the study.


Important new study regarding
trans fats has surprising results:
trans fats may be even worse then we thought

On June 12, 2006, Wake Forest University School of Medicine issued the following surprising press release:

Newswise — The “apple” body shape that increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease may be accelerated by eating trans fat such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, according to new animal research at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

"Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled," said Lawrence L. Rudel, Ph.D., professor of pathology and biochemistry and head of the Lipid Sciences Research Program.

“What it says is that trans fat is worse than anticipated,” Rudel said. “I was surprised.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, levels, which increases the risk of coronary artery disease.

Kylie Kavanagh, D.V.M., presented the findings today at the 66th annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Washington, D.C. She said that over six years, male monkeys fed a western-style diet that contains trans fat had a 7.2 percent increase in body weight, compared to a 1.8 percent increase in monkeys that ate monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

All that extra weight went to the abdomen, and some other body fat was redistributed to the abdomen. Computed tomography (CT) scans showed that the monkeys on the diet containing trans fats had dramatically more abdominal fat than the monkeys on the monounsaturated fat. “We measured the volume of fat using CT,” Kavanagh said. “They deposited 30 percent more fat in their abdomen.”

The monkeys all were given the same amount of daily calories, with 35 percent of the calories coming from fat. The amount of calories they got should only have been enough to maintain their weight, not increase it, Rudel said. “We believed they couldn’t get obese because we did not give them enough calories to get fat.”

One group of monkeys got 8 percent of their calories from trans fat while the other group received those calories as monounsaturated fat. The researchers said that this amount of trans fat is comparable to people who eat a lot of fried food.

“We conclude that in equivalent diets, trans fatty acid consumption increases weight gain,” said Kavanagh.

Over the entire course of the study, there was a small but significant difference in weight between the two groups. “In the world of diabetes, everybody knows that just 5 percent weight loss makes enormous difference,” Kavanagh said. “This little difference was biologically quite significant.”

Rudel said, “The study was specifically funded to look at the role of trans fatty acids in atherosclerosis.”

He said that at the time he got a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, there was not much evidence in the literature and no animal models that documented the hazards of trans fats, though there are data showing it was a risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Kavanagh said the six-year length of the study was equivalent to 20 years in people.

According to the FDA, trans fat is found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine by adding hydrogen.

Since Jan. 1, the FDA has required the amount of trans fat to be listed in the nutrition facts panel on all foods. But the restaurant industry is exempt.

Other researchers on the American Diabetes Society report include Janice D. Wagner, Ph.D., D.V.M., John Jeffrey Carr, M.D., Kate Jones, B.S., Janet Sawyer, M.S., and Kathryn Kelly., B.S., all from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

A report on the study states as follows:

The researchers also found that the trans-fat monkeys had higher blood glucose and were much more insulin resistant, suggesting that they are headed toward becoming diabetic.

The finding echoes studies in people, which have hinted that a diet rich in trans-fats could contribute to diabetes and weight gain. But it has been difficult to pin down the effects of trans-fats compared with other elements of our diets.

The trans-fats may directly stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin, which in turn makes the body resistant to the excess of this hormone. Another possibility is that trans-fats, when inserted into cell membranes, may somehow prevent cells from reacting to insulin normally. But Kavanagh says it is not clear how this leads to a spare tyre around the middle.

We have not yet seen the study so we are not ready to comment. Watch this space!

Click here for another report about the study.


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