Trans fats phasing out

Trans fats phasing out

By Cynthia Retamozo

Walking down the aisles at Wollaston’s or Shaw’s, it is hard to miss the “0g Trans Fat!” label on some items. The trend to remove trans fat from food and restaurants hit New York in December and has now made its way up the east coast and into Boston.

The New York City Board of Health banned trans fats in its restaurants, and Boston is considering similar measures, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

In response to the potential ban many fast food chains around campus, as well as the dining halls, have begun phasing trans fats out of their menus.

“[The Boston Public Health Commission] is taking a very close look at the ban in New York [and have] talked with the New York Health department,” said Tom Lyons, commission spokesman. “In terms of a ban, we’re in an exploratory phase.”

Lyons said the science is clear: trans fats are directly related to heart disease by raising low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol.” Heart disease alternates between being “the number one or number two” killer in the city, he said.

A trans fat is an unnatural fat found in many oily foods like potato chips and doughnuts, and its purpose is to help maintain the shelf life and flavor stability of foods, according to the U.S. Drug and Food Administration website.

Chartwells’ Higher Education, the catering service used at Northeastern’s dining halls, has been in the process of removing trans fat from its menu for years before it became an issue in the media, said Holly Hart, Chartwells’ director of marketing and communications.

Hart said all frying oils used by Chartwells are now trans fat free and the manufacturers are looking into alternatives like using soy and canola oils in the dining halls. She also said its goal for this year is to reduce all trans fat in Chartwells’ food supply by 50 percent.

Hart said one problem is trans fats occur naturally in animals. Therefore it isn’t within the university’s control when a college student gets several chicken fingers that go over the recommended portion size, she said.

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