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New Product May Offer Solution for Restaurants on a Quest for Healthier Fried Food


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The New York City Board of Health made a recent unanimous decision to require all the city’s restaurants and foodservice establishments to remove artificial trans fat. Places like Chicago and California are falling in line with discussions about similar laws that would remove the partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats from food served in their restaurants. The Center of Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer group, reports that cities such as Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston are also taking a hard look at restaurant foods.

For many restaurants New York’s decision will require a complete rework of many of their recipes, and that involves more than just substituting one product for another. To replace the trans fats in some products could change the taste, texture and cost of some popular items. Companies like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell must do extensive research to come up with alternatives that will convince consumers that these new improved items taste as good as the originals.

These concerns are foremost in the minds many restaurant owners. “Customers and legislation are dictating the elimination of trans fat,” says Jim Papanton, president of Scientific Oils. “The problem is that trans-fat-free oils are more expensive, less durable and break down quicker during frying. All of these will mean more expense to the foodservice professional.”

Some experts say that trans fats are even worse for the heart and blood vessels than saturated fats. The FDA estimates that the average daily intake of trans fat in the U. S. population is about 5.8 grams or 2.6 percent of calories per day for individuals 20 years of age and older. According to the American Heart Association, evidence suggests that consumption of trans fat raises LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, causing the arteries to become clogged and increasing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Lightspeed Research, a global interactive market research solutions provider, reports that most Americans are convinced that removing trans fats from restaurant foods will result in healthier diets, but consumers and restaurant owners alike have concerns about the impact on food costs and flavor.

While cost and taste are important considerations, most health experts applaud this movement to provide healthier foods. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers estimate that eliminating trans fats from the U. S. food supply could prevent between 6 and 19 percent of heart attacks and related deaths each year—a number which could represent up to 200,000 lives in the U.S. annually.

Clabber Girl Corporation has set out to help the foodservice industry find an innovative solution for better, healthier frying with trans-fat-free oils. In 2005, with more than 3 million people at risk from accidental exposure to peanut products and with food allergies on the rise, Clabber Girl became the first manufacturing facility in the United States to implement a peanut-free protocol.

Clabber Girl’s new product is patented OilFlexTM, an antioxidant oil stabilizer designed to implement a comprehensive oil management program and provide healthier fried foods that absorb less oil. It is the perfect companion to trans fat free frying oils because it extends the life on these more expensive oils.

“Added to frying oil, OilFlexTM reduces the amount of oil absorption into foods and slows down degradation of the oil,” explains Eric Gloe, vice president of sales and marketing for Clabber Girl. “For those operators who switch to the higher-priced trans-fat-free oils, OilFlexTM often allows them to see their overall shortening costs remain unchanged,” says Gloe, “because it promotes longer fry life and reduced loss through absorption.”

Gloe added that much of the restaurant’s extra expense is offset because the product slows down the breakdown of frying oil while reducing oil loss. OilFlexTM also eliminates the need for filter powders, filter pads and boilouts.

“The first thing I noticed (after using OilFlexTM) was the fries, fish and chicken sandwiches absorbed less oil!” said franchise owner Bob Cahill of St. Charles, IL. “Our oil lasted longer and we used less.”

Most importantly this product will allow the restaurant industry to serve their customers healthier fried foods. Foods cooked in the trans fat free oils utilizing the OilFlexTM product will not only be free of trans fats but will be much lower in total fat and have a healthier nutritional profile.


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