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Hunt is on for the last surviving trans fats

Snacks found in the Marketplace offices. Which one(s) have trans fats?  

The FDA is looking to ban trans fats from our food. For you label readers out there, we’re talking partially hydrogenated oils.

Why? They kill us. The FDA says cutting trans fats could prevent as many as 20,000 heart attacks a year.

But what foods have trans fats these days?

I took $4 to the vending machine and tried to buy some trans fat.  Jumbo honey bun: no trans fat.  Cinnamon roll: no trans fat.  Cheez-Its: no trans fat. 

I wandered around the office, asking people to study their snacks.  I checked out pretzel chips, protein bars, granola bars – no trans fats.

“There’s been tremendous progress in the food industry getting rid of trans fat,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest“I’d estimate that roughly 75 percent of the trans fat is gone."

He says you can still find it at restaurants, especially non-chains.  You can also find partially hydrogenated oils in some microwave popcorn, piecrusts, refrigerated biscuits and frostings. A listener pointed out on Twitter that tootsie rolls have trans fats.

UC Davis food science professor Bruce German says, in some cases, companies struggle to find just the right replacement.  Other times, it’s about cost.

“The majority of food in the marketplace competes to a very substantial extent on price," he says.  And trans fats often cost a little less than replacements.

The most common substitutes are palm and coconut oil.

“The investors in those are smiling,” says German. And, so am I, because now I can eat those Cheez-Its without any partially hydrogenated guilt.

So what food items USED to have trans fat but don't anymore? Some examples below:

McDonald's fries

photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Girl Scout cookies

photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Oreo cookies

photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Crisco shortening

photo credit: Amy Stephenson/Flickr

Triscuits

photo credit: Roadsidepictures/Flickr 

Cheetos

photo credit: Eric Schmuttenmaer/Flickr

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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