Trans Fat Use "Close to Zero" in Fast-Food Chains

July 21, 2010

July 21, 2010 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Fast-food chains have seen the writing on the wall with regard to trans fatty acids and have significantly reduced their use in cooking, according to the results of a new study [1]. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, and Dairy Queen all reduced the use of trans fat to "close to zero" without increasing their use of saturated fats, report researchers.

"The good news is that trans fat use went down and saturated fat use didn't increase," lead researcher Dr Lisa Harnack (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis) told heartwire . "These were two good changes at once."

The results of the study were presented last week at the National Nutrient Database Conference in Grand Forks, North Dakota. To obtain the results, Harnack and colleagues used data from the University of Minnesota's nutrition coordinating center, which tracks the nutritional value of more than 18 000 foods, and compared the current use of trans and saturated fats in french fries at the five fast-food chains.

Using 1997/98 as the baseline, when approximately 10% of cooking oils were made of trans fatty acids, the researchers report that the current use of trans fat declined to almost zero at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, and Dairy Queen. In all chains, saturated fat use also declined or stayed constant. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat use increased during this time period, said Harnack.

In New York City, where a two-phase ban on trans fatty acids was instituted in 2007, as reported previously by heartwire , the use of the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil declined to less than 2%, a recent study showed. The use of trans fat is banned in California, and other cities and states have partial or full bans in place. Denmark was the first country to introduce laws regulating the sale of food with trans fatty acids. The UK Faculty of Public Health and the Royal Society for Public Health have called for the elimination of trans fat in the UK by 2011.

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