(US) Eyes on the fries
- Two years after McDonald's' own deadline for reducing trans fats, the
french fry has thus far snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The heavyweight among fast food chains had announced with fanfare that
the amount of trans fats in its cooking oil would be cut almost in
half by February 2003. After that, a more ambitious goal: McDonald's
planned to eliminate this form of disease-causing grease, right down
to the last McNugget.
Today, however, an order of fries remains as trans-laden as ever,
leaving consumer advocates with a supersized disbelief.
McDonald's has been using trans fats since 1990. At the time it turned
trans, the company was looking for a way to reduce the saturated fat
and cholesterol coming out of its fryers. Trans fats are, before a
chemical transformation, vegetable oil. The hope was that the trans
fats would be no harder on a customer's health than canola or corn
But the evidence against trans fat was already gathering, and it has
now become one of the major controversies in the American food
industry. The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, released just this month,
urge Americans to keep their trans-fat consumption as close to zero as
Dr. Dean Ornish, for one, believes these are more than just claims for
public relations. For almost 30 years, Ornish has touted the benefits
of a diet very low in fat. In 2002, the devoted vegetarian was one of
the many experts who praised McDonald's for abandoning trans fats.
He's now consulting with the company on ways to make its food better
for the 23 million Americans who eat it each day.
"I think they remain committed to achieving the trans fatty acid
goal," says Ornish, who runs the Preventive Medicine Research
Institute in Sausalito, Calif. "The truth is that it was easier to
reduce it in some products than others."
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