I like fat. Butter, cream, olive oil.
But trans fats give fat a bad name.
Artificial trans fats are made by an industrial process of hardening, or “hydrogenating”, oil.
Trans fats are in food – but they are not food.
Trans fat is basically candle wax made from vegetable oil.
The food industrialists use it because it is a cheap filler, prolongs shelf life and has useful cosmetic attributes i.e. it can make a cake look light and fluffy.
As you can imagine, eating candle wax is not good for you: trans fats are toxic and clog up arteries.
There is plenty of scientific evidence to show trans fats are a huge health risk.
Based on the Precautionary Principle (why take an unnecessary risk?), organic standards have always banned trans fats.
The Independent recently asked: why are trans fats still legal in the UK?
Trans fats may appear on a packet as: shortening; hydrogenated vegetable oils; HVO; partially hydrogenated vegetable oils; PHVO.
It’s up to the trans fats manufacturers how to describe trans fats; there are no regulations on terminology.
Dr Alex Richardson, author of They Are What You Feed Them and founder-director of the charity, Food and Behaviour Research, says:
“Good foods make bad commodities; good commodities make bad food.”
What a great quote – sums up our current food crisis…
I have been hanging on to this cutting from The Big Issue since 2008.
It’s an article by Maggie Stanfield, the author of Trans Fat: The Time Bomb in your Food (Souvenir Press). See the book cover at top of this post.
According to Maggie Stanfield, eight of the big supermarkets said in January 2007 they would remove all trans fats from their own brand ranges. “Some managed it. Others didn’t.”
According to the Independent, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and the Co-operative own-brands are now trans-fat free. And, I believe, Sainsbury’s.
In 2010, the National Health Service watchdog, Nice, called for a total ban but instead we got more paper pledges: in March 2011, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC (and many more) promised to remove artificial trans fats by the end of this year. So did Tesco and Asda.
They promised. By the end of 2011.
What do you think? Can we trust ’em?