Trans fats headed for the exits

Comments (9)
By Peter Hadzipetros

There's more progress on the road to dumping trans fats from our diets. Well, most of our diets, anyway.

Crisco — the shortening that millions of us have been baking with for nearly 100 years — has gone trans-fat free. Crisco was the first solidified shortening product made entirely from vegetable oil using the hydrogenation process — the same process that results in trans fatty acids. The goal was to come up with a product that could be stored at room temperature for a long time.

"The reformulation of Crisco shortening reflects years of research to develop a zero grams trans fat per serving product that does not increase the level of saturated fats, while also ensuring it continues to deliver the performance excellence our consumers expect," company spokesperson Maribeth Badertscher says in a news release.

Meanwhile, on this side of the border, a research team headed by a University of Guelph professor has come up with a new way to process oils into trans-fat free solids. It was first published in the journal Chemical Science earlier this month. You can read all the scientific details here.

Alejandro Marangoni's research group found a way to mix oil, water, monoglycerides and fatty acids to form a "cooking fat" that acts the same way as trans and saturated fats — the stuff that makes baked goods taste so good. The big difference here is Marangoni's process works with "healthier" oils like olive, soybean and canola. He's hoping to get food manufacturers interested in the process this year, as the pressure mounts on the makers of commercial foods to dump trans fats.

"It is as good as the oil you put into it," Marangoni told CBC News. "We hope this will provide part of the answer to the problem."

You can watch an interview with the professor here.

You never know. Watching might help guide you to better cookie recipes.

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Comments (9)

Michael Bean


Congratulations to Fractec for paving the way to a better future.

Posted January 29, 2007 09:15 AM

Marni Baram


I think that a replacement oil for the dangerous trans fats is a great idea and a step in the right direction. I do however believe that people need to shift their entire ideas about eating. We need to focus on feeding our bodies whole foods that do not come in packages, tins or styrofoam containers. I'll be the first to admit that the treats at Starbucks are delicious, but it's eating food like that on a regular basis that is getting people into trouble with their health.

Posted January 27, 2007 12:13 PM

Chris Wright

"The reformulation of Crisco shortening reflects years of research to develop a zero grams trans fat per serving"

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Crisco will still contain trans fats -- just at a level that can be rounded down to 'zero grams per serving'. Wow. I'll still judiciously avoid anything that might be made with Crisco, or any other shortening.

Posted January 26, 2007 06:24 PM


... and here goes some scientific data confirming Steve's statement about the neutral effect of stearic fatty acids on blood cholesterol levels. It is important here to differentiate the effect on the "good" cholesterol (HDL) and the "bad" cholesterol (LDL).
Have fun!

Citation: Mensink, R.P. Zock, P.L. Kester, A.D.M. and Katan, M.B. “Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials” Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:1146–55.

Posted January 26, 2007 03:06 PM

Silvana Martini


I really enjoyed the CBC interview to Alex Marangoni. I always enjoy Dr. Marangoni's (FRACTEC) product and processing innovations since they are always based on scientific data (see the paper published in Soft Matter journal in the link above, excellent stuff!).
In the same context, I will really enjoy reading about the technology that CRISCO is using to formulate their shortenings. Is there anything available out there?

Posted January 26, 2007 02:24 PM

Steve Bernet

Follow up to Anita's Comment re. Butter and Natural Foods

Anita, I think you're spot-on and I think the research will confirm your thoughts.
Natural products including butter and lard have taken a hit due to their saturated fat content. We are told not to consume saturated fats ... but this is misleading. It true that some saturated fats, palmitic acid for example, are almost as problematic as trans, but some such as stearic acid have a neutral effect on cardiovascular health.
Guess where you find stearic acid ... you got butter and animals fats.
So, I agree with you butter and other animal fats have had a bad wrap.
The Canadian food industry seems to be well on its way to solving the trans issue ... but I'm concerned for those companies that have choosen to substitute with palm fat. Palm fat imports are increasing exponentially in the US, and as happened 25 years ago I anticipate a palm fat backlash from the soy and corn lobby. When that happens we'll be looking at changes once again ... and it's not that far off in my opinion.
So, don't be afraind to butter your toast!

Posted January 26, 2007 01:52 PM

John Leveris

The bakery and foodservice industry in Canada should take the example set by New York City to effectively remove all industrial trans-fats from foodservice food offerings.

Inventions such as this makes it much easier for the entire food industry to make available and sell us healthier baked goods and foods... NO NEED FOR MORE DELAYS AND EXCUSES!

Indutrial trans-fats are known killers, why do we tolerate these being in any of our foods? The food industry has had much too long to get them out.

Posted January 26, 2007 09:32 AM

Anita Hellquist

While fat and cholesterol need to be consumed in moderation, I believe it won't be long until we "discover" that butter is actually a very healthy choice. Just as we were taught for a time that eggs were unhealthy, butter has been given a similar bad rap. When will we finally concede that a balanced diet consisting of foods which have been minimally processed, together with exercise, is the best choice for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately there's not a lot of money to be made selling food products which are close to their natural state! Imagine! Our grandmothers who baked with lard were creating a healthier product with animal fat...

Posted January 26, 2007 12:31 AM

Steve Bernet

Great coverage of this story by the CBC!
The new heart-friendly structured oil described by Alex Marangoni represents a Canadian breakthrough that promises to help solve the global epidemic of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Thw successful commercialization of this technology is supported by several important organizations in Guelph, Ontario. These organizations have been vital in Fractec's ability to turn great science into commercial reality. These organization include:

1.Advanced Food and Material Network (AFMNet)
2.Soy 20/20
3.MaRS Landing
4.University of Guelph
5.Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs
6.Ontario Soybean Growers
7.Guelph Parntership for Innovation
9.City of Guelph Economic Development Office
10.University of Waterloo

This technology provides a new strategy for eliminating trans fats and reducing consumption of calories from fat. The technology also provides a strategy for using locally produced heart-friendly soybean and canola oils instead of imported tropical fats. So, this is not only good news for consumers, it's also great news for our farmers, agrifood processors, rural communities, and food industries.

Yes ... trans fats are about to make an exit.

Posted January 25, 2007 09:50 PM

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Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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Congratulations to Fractec for paving the way to a better...
Trans fats headed for the exits
I think that a replacement oil for the dangerous trans fa...
Trans fats headed for the exits
"The reformulation of Crisco shortening reflects years of...
Trans fats headed for the exits
... and here goes some scientific data confirming Steve's...
Trans fats headed for the exits
I really enjoyed the CBC interview to Alex Marangoni. I a...
Trans fats headed for the exits


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