Attention media representatives and restaurant owners. Please note that the Zero Trans Fat Cooking Oil Contest website is at www.frytest.com. The FryTest.com website has a listing of zero trans fats oils and a listing of zero trans fat parfried products. FryTest.com is not part of BanTransFats.com.
When we started this website in April 2003, trans fats were not even on the national radar screen. It was easy to maintain a trans fat website in those days, because so little was happening.
Since that time, our campaign has resulted in tremendous success. Trans fat content in the national food supply has diminished dramatically. There is so much news about trans fat that it is impossible to track it. For that reason, we are not keeping this website updated. Much of the information on this website is out of date. However, the health information is current.
This website is now part of history. It was highly influential in the national trans fat campaign. We hope that you will enjoy and find value in the website despite the fact that we are not keeping it updated.
T-SHIRTS AND STICKERS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY PAYMENTS OR CONTRIBUTIONS.
This home page is designed for people who are already familiar with the trans fat problem. If you want to learn about trans fat, you should start on the About Trans Fat page. After reviewing that page, you can return to this page.
Click here for a very brief summary of four important studies about the health effects of trans fats.
Governor Schwarzenegger signs the trans fat bill
Thanks a million!
On April 21, 2007, this website passed the one million visitors mark. (We don't count hits or pageviews like some other websites because that would be a misleadingly high number.)
Thanks to all of you who have made financial contributions, provided information, pointed out a huge number of typos, sent comments to the FDA through this website, and sent us many thousands of interesting emails.
You have helped make the ban trans fats campaign a success.
Who is BanTransFats.com?
Check out this 100% zero trans fat bakery
We had the privilege of visiting "The Churrolandia Bakery and The Funnel Cake Factory" in Whittier, California. Everything is zero trans fat. The owner, Norma Chavez-Nielsen, invited us to inspect the bakery and sample the goodies. Fantastic! And the biggest surprise? Wonderful delicious donuts fried in trans fat-free canola oil, not palm oil. They tasted just right and the texture and dryness were perfect. In fact, everything we tried was excellent.
No one should say trans fat-free baking can't be done unless they have first visited the Churrolandia Bakery and The Funnel Cake Factory and sampled the goods.
The address is 7303 Greenleaf Avenue, Whittier, California. Phone: (562) 789-5100.
Here are some tasty pictures.
Look at the variety!
All trans fat-free and delicious
Fried in trans fat-free low saturated fat
canola oil and just perfect
Meet the Bad Fat Brothers!
Food companies use cartoons characters to sell sugary fatty foods to kids. Well now it's time to counterattack. The American Heart Association has launched its Bad Fat Brothers campaign using funds that BanTransFats.com obtained from the McDonald's trans fat litigation settlement. Click here for the American Heart Association media release.
Click here for the cartoon webisode of the Bad Fat Brothers.
California Assembly Member Tony Mendoza is new in Sacramento (the capital of California). He won election in November 2006. His first legislative act was to introduce a bill to ban trans fats in California. Click here to read the bill. Click here for Tony Mendoza's website.
Standing up for California's consumers
On March 6, 2007, the California Assembly Committee on Health held a hearing on the bill. Tony Mendoza and Stephen Joseph of BanTransFats.com testfied at the hearing. The Committee on Health approved the bill 9-4.
On June 27, 2007, The California Assembly passed the bill by a vote of 42 to 27. Click here to read the story.
On July 12, 2007, the California Senate Committee on Health passed the bill by a vote of 7-4.
The next step is a vote by the full California Senate.
Follow the progress of the bill by clicking here.
Tony Mendoza has two assistants working on the bill, Luis Patino and Alma Hernandez. They are doing a fabulous job.
Tony Mendoza and his staff are demonstrating total commitment to public health and we congratulate and thank them for this initiative.
At long last McDonald's is moving
McDonald's has found a trans fat-free oil it deems worthy of its French fries, and plans to be using it for all its fried menu items by early 2008.
McDonald's has instructed its staff not to tell you
whether they are using trans fat-free oil
Click here and here to read the story.
Click here for the Chicago Tribune taste test. (Result: They taste exactly the same!)
New York City and Philadephia ban trans fats
criticisms that people are making about these initiatives
After BanTransFats.com announced Project Tiburon in 2004, we were contacted by New York City officials who were interested in developing a similar program. BanTransFats.com has provided continuing assistance to New York City since that time.
On September 26, 2006, the New York City Health Department proposed for public comment two separate initiatives that will affect New York City restaurants.
The second initiative would require restaurants that already make calorie content publicly available to also post it on their menus and menu boards.
A public hearing was held on October 30, 2006. Stephen Joseph, the CEO of BanTransFats.com, testified at the hearing in support of the trans fat proposal.
On December 5, 2006, the New York City Health Department approved the new regulation with some changes.
Click here to read the notice of adoption and the new regulation.
Click here for an news article about the approval of the regulation.
Click here to listen to a National Public Radio interview with the New York City Health Commissioner regarding the proposed ban.
Click here for an article about how smoothly the switch to the new oils is going in New York City.
On February 8, 2007, the Philadelphia City Council passed a trans fat ban. On February 15, 2007, the Mayor of Philadephia signed it into law. Click here for a news article.
Our responses to the criticisms
1. "There is only a relatively small amount of trans fat in the food supply, not enough to cause harm. "
The U.S. Government's recommendation in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 is "keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible."
In June 2006, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued its "2006 Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations." The AHA recommends that your daily intake of trans fats be limited to 1 percent of total calories, which is equivalent to roughly 2 to 2.5 grams of trans fat per day. (The AHA also recommends that you limit saturated fat to about 15 to 19 grams per day.)
How much trans fat do we consume in a day? Some of us are consuming virtually none, because we are being extremely selective about what we eat. Some people are consuming in excess of 15 grams of trans fat per day. If that sounds unbelievable, then look at these figures:
Incidentally, don't think that the problem is only at McDonald's or other fast-food chains. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many other restaurants, including "quality" restaurants, fry their food in partially hydrogenated oil and served baked goods containing partially hydrogenated oil. Many of them serve larger portions than McDonald's with even more trans fats than McDonald’s.
The AHA makes a "high-priority recommendation" that food manufacturers and restaurants replace partially hydrogenated oils with low saturated fat alternatives." We wholeheartedly agree.
If you would like to read about the studies that show the effects of trans fats, check out the "studies" section on our About Trans Fats page. It's worse than you think!
Click here to read the full AHA recommendations and analysis.
Click here for the AHA website page summarizing the recommendations.
Click here for the AHA news release regarding the recommendations.
2. "Trans fat-free frying oils are not yet available."
There are many trans fat-free cooking oils on the market today which are in use in hundreds of thousands of restaurants across the country. Here is a partial list of companies that manufacture or distribute trans fat-free frying oils in the U.S. and/or Canada. Many of these are in fact the same major companies that produce partially hydrogenated oils. Anyone in the restaurant business will recognize many of these names.
3. "Trans fat-free baking shortenings are not available."
At the present time, many bakers use trans fat-free palm oil as shortening. Palm oil contains no trans fat and works very well, but is not a healthy alternative as it is high in saturated fat. While it would be perfectly legal to use trans fat-free palm oil under New York’s and Philadephiia's regulations, a lower saturated fat alternative should be used if possible for health reasons. There are many trans fat-free lower saturated fat alternatives on the market such as palm and canola blends and interesterified shortenings and oils.
There is even a Crisco trans fat-free shortening which has excellent functionality.
A baker can always call the American Institute of Baking if advice is needed, but it would very rarely be necessary.
Ask the people at Jason's Deli. Jason's eliminated partially hydrogenated oils from every food item at all of its 156 restaurants nationwide and in all 1.6 million box lunches provided to schools annually. Legal Seafoods also removed all the partially hydrogenated oils from its food items.
5. "Trans fat-free oils make food taste bad."
A real oil tastes at least as good as an artificial oil and usually better. Let anyone who says that trans fat-free oils taste worse than artificial partially hydrogenated oils show us the results of even one consumer sensory panel. Half of the restaurants in New York City are using trans fat-free oil. Ask them if trans fat-free tastes worse!
You don't use partially hydrogenated oil for your home cooking. Think about it. Do you need to use partially hydrogenated oil for your home cooked food to taste good?
Not they don't. Most have already changed or are in the process of changing.
7. "This will add to restaurant owners' costs."
Switching to trans fat-free frying oil does not increase costs. The trans fat-free frying oils available today have fry lives just as long as partially hydrogenated oils. As every restaurant owner knows, it is fry life that determines cost. (We are using the term "trans fat-free oil” to mean oil that has not been partially hydrogenated or which would otherwise comply with New York City’s proposed regulation.)
A $26 case oil of trans fat-free oil that has 1.1 times the fry life of a $23 case of partially hydrogenated oil has the same cost. That single $26 case of oil will cook thousands of servings of food.
Half of the restaurants in New York City are using trans fat-free oil. Ask them if it's more expensive.
In Tiburon, California, “America’s First Trans Fat-Free City,” there is plenty of frying going on in the town's restaurants. They are not experiencing any noticeable increase in cost.
Even if there is any additional cost it certainly does not exceed $5 to $10 per week even in the largest restaurant. KFC's third-largest franchise owner, John Neal, says the difference in cost is pennies. Isn’t that a reasonable price to save lives?
Click here for the article in which John Neal is quoted.
It's incredible that such pure fiction turns up in the media presented as fact. Every food that is on the market today, including French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and yes - donuts - will continue to be just as available as they are today.
No foods are being banned. All that is happening is that an oil or fat in the food will be healthier. Customers will not notice any difference in their food whatsoever.
9. "Customers should have freedom of choice."
Yes they should. The more freedom of choice the better. So if Restaurant A uses trans fat-free oil and Restaurant B uses partially hydrogenated oil, how do you - the customer - know which one uses the trans fat-free oil? You want to make a choice, but can you choose? Remember, there is no regulation requiring restaurants to label. Some restaurant chains have websites with nutrition information, but there is no regulation requiring restaurants to disclose such information and most do not.
Trans fat is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. Trans fat is undetectable unless you carry around Gas Chromatography or other scientific equipment with you.
One of the portions of French fries shown below is made with trans fat-laden partially hydrogenated oil. The other isn't. Which is which? Go ahead - exercise your "freedom of choice."
You can't make a choice without information. And given a choice, why would anyone choose the food prepared in partially hydrogenated oil? What kind of choice is that?
Do we eliminate the regulation banning arsenic in food in favor of giving people freedom of choice? We are not comparing trans fat to arsenic, but the principle is the same.
How do young children exercise freedom of choice? Do they have a sufficient understanding of the issues? What about adults who don’t understand health issues because they are complex? What about people who don’t speak English? Freedom of choice is fine for some people but what about everyone else? Do we punish people because they don’t understand health and nutrition, or do we protect them?
Right now the restaurant owners have the freedom of choice. They know whether they are using partially hydrogenated oil, but they don’t have to tell you. They have the choice but you the customer don't. Whose heart is it anyway? The restaurant owner's or yours? Do you want the restaurant owner to choose whether you have a heart attack?
10. "The government should stay out of restaurant kitchens."
Why? Because restauranteurs are health and nutrition experts? Because restauranteurs have the health interests of their consumers at heart?
Here is a quote from the owner of a Zagat-rated restaurant: "If somebody wants to suck down a gallon of Crisco, what do I care?" Click here for the news story containing the quote.
The government is already in restaurant kitchens, ensuring that our food is safe. We would be in big trouble if the government stayed out of restaurant kitchens.
11. "Instead of forcing restaurants to use trans fat-free oil, they should be required to label it."
The restaurant industry has been fighting tooth and nail to prevent labeling. They can't have it both ways. They can't refuse to label and refuse to eliminate partially hydrogenated oil.
One of our supporters asked the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), a major chain, whether any of its products contained partially hydrogenated oil. Here is the response:
12. "We should use education, not compulsion."
New York City tried that approach and it failed. The city states in its media release about the proposed regulation:
13. "There is no popular support for the proposal."
Not true. The Wall Street Journal conducted a poll. The question was: "Would you support a ban on use of trans fats in restaurants in your city?" 61% were in favor and 39% against. Considering that the readership of the Wall Street Journal is mostly business-supporting and conservative, this is a very encouraging result.
In December 2006, Technomic, Inc. stated that it had found that 63% of restaurant goers nationally support New York City's ban on restaurant use of trans fats.
Take note states, cities, towns and restaurants across America: the public wants this.
Tiburon, California was America's
Project Tiburon is a project of BanTransFats.com. We worked with restaurants owners and managers in Tiburon's 18 restaurants, and all now use trans fat-free cooking oil for frying. You will see stickers like the one below in restaurant windows in Tiburon:
The cooking oils used in restaurants are a major cause of the high trans fat consumption that we experience in the United States. It is not just the McDonald's and the Burger Kings and other "fast food" restaurants. Many "quality" restaurants use partially hydrogenated oils too.
Click here for more information about Project Tiburon.
Trans fat-free cities and states are spreading like wildfire!
America's first trans fat-free city!
Tiburon, California was America's first trans fat-free city. Project Tiburon was conceived and completed by BanTransFats.com in 2004. We went to every restaurant and talked with the owners or managers. We assisted those that were using partially hydrogenated oils in making the switch to trans fat-free oils. Click here for information.
Next was New York City following Tiburon's example
Following the success of Project Tiburon, BanTransFats.com worked with New York City that eventually led to the ban discussed above. For a newspaper article about how New York City used Project Tiburon as the model for its initiative, click here.
In July 2006, Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke proposed an ordinance that would ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils for cooking in Chicago restaurants. Following a hearing in July 2006, he said that he would only target restaurant chains with at least $20 million in annual gross sales, including the major fast food establishments. Alderman Burke has asked them to act voluntarily in taking trans fats off their menus before seeking passage of legislation that would require them to do so.
Another hearing was held in September 2006. At that hearing, a consultant retained by the Illinois Restaurant Association sought to minimize the health risks posed by oils containing trans fat. He admitted that there was no question that the consensus of scientific opinion is that trans fat increases levels of bad cholesterol. However, he said it was "murky" how much of an effect that increase had on coronary heart disease and how much it raised the risk of death from the disease. "The question is how much impact does that have on development of coronary heart disease," he said. "And how big of a risk factor is trans fatty acids relative to the other risk factors that most people have" such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and drinking alcohol.
The consultant retained by the Illinois Restaurant Association was trying to muddy the waters. There is nothing "murky" about the association between bad cholesterol and heart disease.
Now Alderman Burke has drafted a new version that would require all restaurants to label products fried in partially hydrogenated oils. The label would state: "Consumers of this product are hereby placed on notice that this restaurant prepares foods using cooking oils that contain artificial trans fats…The consumption of this fat increases the risk of coronary heart disease." The ordinance would take effect one year after City Council passage.
Regarding a ban, Alderman Burke has said: "We’d like to see Chicago do it before New York." “But in the interim,” restaurants should be required to warn consumers.
Click here to see the PBS Newshour segment about the initiative.
Another trans fat-free zone has been formed in Westchester County where 125 restaurants have agreed not to use partially hydrogenated oil. Click here for information.
Another trans fat-free zone is being formed in Boston. Restaurants sign up, proposing one or more menu items that they believe will qualify as Boston BestBites and providing specific instructions for preparation. Brigham and Women’s Hospital nutritionists analyze the menu item, calculating calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium content. Menu items that meet the program criteria, including the non-use of partially hydrogenated oil, are awarded a Boston BestBites designation. When menu items fall outside the criteria, nutritionists from the Boston Public Health Commission and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Nutrition will work with restaurant owners and chefs to make healthy modifications to the recipe. Participating restaurants receive window decals, table tents and other promotional materials and share in advertising opportunities connected with the program.
Click here for information.
Then Philadephia banned it
Next, on February 15, 2007, Philadelphia banned it.
Then it was banned in...
Albany County, New York (passed by legislature, subject to approval and regulations)
It's spreading like wildfire
Other cities and states across the United States are considering trans fat bans and related initiatives in the wake of the New York City regulation. There are now so many city and state initiatives that we cannot keep track of them all. Ban initiatives are also being considered in other countries.
Boca Raton, Florida
Maryland (but click here for story about its initial rejection)
Massachusetts (not opposed by Massachusetts Restaurant Association!)
Michigan (click here for an article)
New Hampshire (but click here for story about its initial rejection)
Albany County, New York
King County, Seattle, Washington
If you are a legislator or official interesting in discussing in a ban, please do not hesitate to contact us. We keep all such discussions highly confidential. We are advising a number of cities and towns at the present time.
Click on the T-shirt to find out how to get one
Canadian Government Trans Fat Task Force
In November 2004, the New Democratic Party (NDP) introduced a bill in the Canadian Parliament that would effectively ban trans fats. Click here to read the bill. In response to this initiative, the House of Commons by 193 to 73 passed a motion calling for the establishment of the task force, followed by regulations or a law to limit trans-fat content in all food products. Click here to read the motion and to see how each M.P. voted.
As a direct result of the NDP's initiative, the Canadian Government health ministry, Health Canada, announced the formation of a task force to "develop recommendations and strategies for reducing trans fats in Canadian foods to the lowest levels possible."
The NDP's initiative originated with the work of Pat Martin, M.P. NDP leader, Jack Layton, M.P. introduced the motion in the House of Commons and moved the issue forward with Pat Martin. Incidentally, BanTransFats.com provided information and support to Pat Martin. He learned about trans fat from our campaign!
On June 28, 2006, the Task Force issued its final recommendations. The Task Force recommended:
Click here for a copy of the final report. Click here for the Trans Fat Task Force's webpage.
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) and Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) are publicly supporting the recommendations. Click here for the CRFA statement and information page. Click here for the FCPC media release.
On June 20, 2007, Health Minister Tony Clement announced that Health Canada is adopting the Canadian Trans Fat Task Force’s recommendation on trans fats in Canadian foods, by calling on Canada’s food industry to limit the trans fat content of vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines to 2 percent of the total fat content, and to limit the trans fat content for all other foods to 5 percent, including ingredients sold to restaurants. Minister Clement said: “We are giving industry two years to reduce trans fats to the lowest levels possible as recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. If significant progress has not been made over the next two years, we will regulate to ensure the levels are met.” Click here for the media release.
Girl Scout cookies still contain partially hydrogenated oil!
You may have heard that Girl Scout Cookies are now trans fat-free. Click here for an example of a news story. However, according to the websites of the two manufacturers that make the cookies, all of the cookies still contain partially hydrogenated oils.
Thanks to Jim Huber of conservativecartoons.com for permission to reprint this cartoon.
Reprinted with the permission of www.CartoonStock.com
At least 711 of you responded to
Starting January 1, 2006, all packaged foods must list trans fat content on their Nutrition Facts labels. Here is an example of the new label.
But watch out! There are two major problems with the new label, as noted below.
1. Under FDA regulations, "if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero."
2. Note that there is no percentage for trans fat in the "% Daily Value" column. There is just a blank space. The FDA had previously proposed to put an asterisk in the % Daily Value column with a note that "intake of trans fats should be as low as possible."
However, in response to food industry pressure, the warning has been dropped. You should act as if the advisory is on the label. Eat as little trans fat as possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked for public comments about the wording of a footnote to be included on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged food products alerting consumers to keep intake of trans fats low. This is an important issue. If the FDA requires a footnote warning consumers to keep intake of trans fat as low as possible, tens of thousands of lives could be saved and a huge number of heart attacks could be prevented every year.
In October 2003, we submitted our comments to the FDA. We proposed that the footnote read as follows: "Intake of trans fat should be as low as possible." This was the FDA's own original proposed wording which they abandoned under pressure from the food industry. It is the wording used on some Frito-Lay products such as Doritos. It is perfectly good wording. Now, after the food industry made such a fuss, the FDA has reversed course and says that the wording would "confuse" you!
Two groups representing major food companies say that there should be no footnote and no information on the Nutrition Facts label informing consumers to keep trans fat intake low. Here is what the Food Processors Association (NFPA) says on behalf of Birds Eye, Frito-Lay, General Mills, Gerber, Heinz, Hershey, Kellogg, Kraft, Nestle, Oscar Mayer, Pepperidge Farm, PepsiCo, Taco Bell, and Unilever:
"Informing is not educating." Since when?
Starting in October 2003, we asked visitors to this website to send comments to the FDA about our proposed footnote and also whether a manufacturer should be permitted to market a product as "trans fat-free," even if it contains trans fat. At least 711 of you emailed your comments to the FDA before the FDA stopped accepting email comments in September 2007. Thank you. You made a difference!
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