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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mmm, Finger-Lickin' Trans-Fats At KFC


This cute little girl is getting more than just chicken from KFC

Trans-fats are back in the news again now that the world's most famous chicken restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken (or as they refer to themselves these days -- KFC) has been sued by an activist group wanting them to remove or at the very least post warnings about their frying oil containing high amounts of the dangerous trans-fats.

Public health advocacy group Center For Science In The Public Interest (CSPI), who has previously pushed for warning labels on sugary sodas, filed a lawsuit in the Washington, DC-based Superior Court to force KFC to stop using or begin clearly labeling their menu items that contain partially hydrogenated cooking oils, better known as trans-fats. Click here to view KFC's Nutrition Page to find out how many of their menu items contains large amounts of trans-fats in them (including their heavily-promoted new bowls meals!).


Michael Jacobson means well, but comes across as too extreme

CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson says KFC could make their chicken healthier if they wanted to.

"Grilled, baked, or roasted chicken is a healthy food-and even fried chicken can be trans-fat-free," Jacobson said in a statement. "But coated in breading and fried in partially hydrogenated oil, this otherwise healthy food becomes something that can quite literally take years off your life. KFC knows this, yet it recklessly puts its customers at risk of a Kentucky Fried Coronary."

Hyperbole from Mr. Jacobson aside, it's good that the nation is starting to talk about trans-fats and how harmful they can be for people wanting to protect their health and waistline. With Wendy's becoming the first fast food restaurant chain to switch to trans-fat-free oils for their French fries and other fried foods, the move is on across the food industry in the United States to eliminate this completely unnecessary food ingredient from our lives. Silly lawsuits accomplish nothing, Mr. Jacobson. Instead, use your resources and platform to help educate people about making better choices, not making warning labels!

Although recent studies have shown that trans-fat consumption can make you fatter and more insulin resistant, that still unfortunately hasn't changed the minds of the majority of Americans (56 percent) who say they are not worried about watching their trans-fat intake. This cognizant ignorance on the part of so many is why obesity-related problems such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart attacks, strokes, and the like are still running rampant and show no signs of letting up.

As much as they like to make people think they are just innocent bystanders in this debate, the government puts on a good face and acts like it really cares about the subject of trans-fats by urging consumers to keep their daily allowance to no more than 2g trans-fats. But check this out, the government has not being completely truthful regarding the actual trans-fat content of most foods. GASP! I know it's hard to believe. NOT!

Let me explain.

Our dearly beloved Food & Drug Administration currently allows food companies to round the numbers when they are making their nutrition labels. For most ingredients this is not a problem, but with trans-fats it can add up to a BIG ordeal that can be a major issue for people who think they are avoiding this nasty substance. Did you know a product labeled ZERO trans-fats can STILL have trans-fats in them? It's true and the government allows it, too!

With the government imposing a limit of no more than 2 grams of trans-fats daily for people to remain healthy, guess what happens when you eat a bunch of products that claim to be trans-fat-free and yet they have less than 0.5g of trans-fat per serving and are labeled "trans-fat-free?" Well, do the math! You can go WELL OVER that 2g limit fairly quick! With serving sizes being manipulated to keep getting smaller and smaller these days, this sets a bunch of people up for consuming a lot of trans-fats when they actually think they're eating NONE! Yikes!

Just how many products out there that claim to have ZERO trans-fats actually contain them? Who the heck knows and the government doesn't seem to care about this either! It is fully possible you could be eating upwards of 3-4 grams of trans-fats daily and not even know it. This is absolutely NOT good!

I suppose one solution is for you to read the labels like a hawk and avoid anything that contains even the slightest amounts of partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list. If you buy foods that have fully hydrogenated oils, then rest assured they will NOT contain any trans-fats at all. That should be helpful to remember when you are shopping, although I know it can all be so confusing to the average consumer. Assume it has partially hydrogenated oils if the labeling is unclear.

To be honest, none of these companies like KFC, Wendy's, McDonald's and the like HAVE to use oils with trans-fats in them. There are certain kinds of olive, sunflower, and safflower oils that would all work well to keep the foods that are cooked healthy and trans-fat-free. So why aren't they using them? Money! Partially hydrogenated oils are cheap and perform well for the purpose they are intended. Their motto seems to be "to you-know-where with public health!"

But let's get one thing clear: NOT ALL FATS ARE AS BAD AS TRANS-FATS. This Med India column entitled "Fast Food Motto: Fat Off The Food Is Equal To Fat Off The Body" is the wrong message to send to people about fat in general. It's really not necessarily the total fat, including saturated and unsaturated fats, in foods that threatens people's health as this column contends.

The article says that fast food companies are "doing something solid about all the fat in their foods" by "adopting healthier means and ways of cooking the food which includes reducing the fat content."

UGH! Hello people, fat itself is NOT the issue here. Not even the hated and villified saturated fat. It's the trans-fats that should be avoided.

Fat consumption has been found to improve mental health, strengthen the heart, reverse Alzheimer's Disease as well as Parkinson's Disease and reduce body weight in conjunction with eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates, just to name a few. Don't lump in healthy fats with the trans-fats because people will miss out on these health benefits of eating the right fats.

So who is gonna be next in the crosshairs of the trans-fats police? It looks like Starbucks may have that honor if Jacobson and his gang have their way. Stay tuned...

If you want some finger-lickin' good healthy fried chicken without the trans-fats, then how about trying my special low-carb version of fried chicken cooked in extra virgin olive oil? I think you'll like it! :D

1 Comments:

Blogger Newbirth said...

That Starbucks thing is crazy! You don't even have to ASK for a pamphlet. At the Strbucks I go to they have several - including the one with nutrition information - right on the counter by the sugar and stirrers. I have one tacked on my refrigerator now.

As long as the info. is available, that should be enough.

6/18/2006 8:18 PM  

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