Trans fat withdrawn prior to U.S. trend

TCU Dining Services beat a recent health curve by providing a trans fat-free menu in all its dining facilities since January 2006.Following a health-conscious trend that began in the new millennium with the abundance of low-carb diets, some fats were no longer seen as the enemy. However, the dangers of saturated fat and trans fatty acids have risen to the top of the populations’ health worries, according to Market Research.

As of January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration began forcing food marketers to display the amount of trans fat in their products, according to Market Research. To avoid this information disclosure, some companies, cities and other businesses have begun to ban trans fat in their products all together, Market Research said.

Aramark, a food management company that handles 400 college campuses, announced its plan to ban trans fat in January 2007. These colleges include Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities and Saint Joseph’s University, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

However, TCU was ahead of them all and has already celebrated its one-year anniversary of being trans fat-free.

Sodexho, the largest food management company in North America, provides food services at TCU. Sodexho completed its switch to trans fat-free products before January 2006, according to the Sodexho Web site.

The conversion at Sodexho began in 2005, but it took some time to sell out the TCU stock in order to replace it with the new products, said Legia Abato, marketing manager of Dining Services.

Sodexho changed to trans fat-free products because it realized there were healthier and better products for its consumers, which range from toddlers to senior citizens, Abato said.

All the food produced by TCU is trans fat-free. However, pre-packaged products on campus may still contain trans fat, Abato said.

Trans fat is found in partially hydrogenated oils and in pre-packaged foods because it increases shelf-stability, said Gina Hill, TCU nutrition assistant professor.

Hydrogenation is a process of pumping-up oils with hydrogen, forming a denser substance with a butter-like consistency, according to the On-line Medical Dictionary.

These oils may be cheaper for food venders to keep in stock, but they are costly for consumers’ health, Hill said.

Trans fat decreases the body’s HDL (high-density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol”) and increases LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol”), according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

HDL is good for heart health because it slows the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries, according to the American Heart Association.

LDL on the other hand can build up on artery walls increasing the risk of heart disease, according to the AHA.

Jeff Proctor, a junior radio-TV-film major, worries about his heart health.

“All the men on my mom’s side of the family have a high risk of heart disease,” he said.

Trans fat is now one less thing that TCU students, like Proctor, say they must worry about.

“I didn’t know about the trans fat ban at TCU,” Proctor said, “but it makes me feel better about eating on campus.