Uncommons to Reduce Trans Fats

Phillips Academy Dining Services’ menu options are not completely trans fat-free, but Andover’s officials hope to heavily reduce the fats’ presence. Food Service Director Scott Flanagan said, “[Uncommons] doesn’t buy a lot of pre-made products. We are a scratch kitchen, meaning that we make a lot of our products here, [and] this reduces the trans fat in our foods.” In an attempt to reduce trans fats, the Andover dining service recently introduced a new kind of frying oil. Now all Aramark dining facilities use Zero Trans Fat frying oil. Aramark, Phillips Academy’s food service provider, switched to ZT frying oil despite its increased price. Menu items will now be monitored to reduce trans fats content. Currently, Aramark reviews the foods that Uncommons orders and will only approve the purchase of items that are low in trans fat. School Nutritionist and Registered Dietician Aggie Kip said that choosing products that are low in trans fat can be difficult because “a lot of companies that Aramark buys from still have [and sell] products with trans fat.” In the future, the dining service management may indicate on the daily menu which items are trans fat-free, just as gluten-free products are currently labeled. A kiosk will be added to Uncommons providing the nutritional information for each day’s entrees. Kip also hopes to decrease student trans fat consumption outside of Uncommons. One of her goals is to eliminate products that contain trans fats in school vending machines and replace them with healthier options. She also plans to contact restaurants in downtown Andover and encourage them to label the menu items that are high in trans fat. Kip said, “It is important for students to be educated about nutritional information such as trans fats.” In food products, trans fats can be both natural and artificial, yet the majority of consumed trans fats are artificially processed, which increases the shelf life of products and decreases production costs. This type of trans fat most often appears in fried foods and baked goods. It is recommended that the average person consume only two grams of trans fats per day. However, currently Americans consume an average 5.6 grams of trans fats a day, as reported by the Center for Science in Public Interest. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that, “trans fat causes 72,000 to 228,000 heart attacks, including roughly 50,000 a year.” Scientists discovered the adverse health effects of trans fats in the 1990’s. Since then, there have been worldwide movements to eradicate trans fats. A trans fat regulation pending legislation in Massachusetts requires that menu items containing trans fats be indicated with a warning notice at restaurants. Since September 2007, a total of 20 states have either passed or are in the process of passing trans fat limitations.