7 reasons to use trans fat...or not

January 30, 2014

I read an article on the FDA banning artificial trans fat in food. This is good news and I support it. But I am not going to discuss why trans fats are unhealthy. Instead I wanted to highlight what I thought was an amusing piece of the article that talks about why food manufacturers use then in the first place. 

"Coffee creamer: Fresh cream quickly goes rancid and vegetable oil would do the same if it weren't hydrogenated."*

Cream in the fridge will last a few weeks. Just use that.

"Canned frosting: Butter-based frostings melt and turn into "puddles of goo." Hydrogenated oils stay solid and keep frosting smooth at room temperature."*

Is it that hard to make a butter based frosting? Plus coconut oil stays solid under 78 degrees.

"Stick and tub margarine: Turning vegetable oil into a spreadable solid requires a chemical change. New techniques have been developed, but they cost more."*

Once again butter spreads very easily. Just leave it on the counter.

"Baked goods: Solid fats such as butter, lard or shortening make cakes and cookies tender and allow them to brown. Creating solid fat from vegetable oil without hydrogenation is possible, but more expensive."*

So you don't have to use shortening It even says that butter or lard could be used in baked goods. Both of which are a much better, healthier option.

"Microwave popcorn: Hydrogenated vegetable oils are shelf-stable for longer and can be formulated to melt at exactly the temperatures when the kernels pop."*

I am just going to say it... No, actually I will be nice. It does not take that much more effort to put flavoring on your popcorn yourself.

"Frying oils: Oils for industrial use need to stand up against multiple uses over the course of a day. Hydrogenation helps the oil stay stable and keeps it from going rancid. Soybean growers are working on soy oils that will do this naturally."*

Soybean growers? Or GMO companies.

"Candies: Many chewy candies require fat to keep them moist and to protect the sugar in them from crystallizing."*

Again, if fat is what you want, you have plenty of options besides hydrogenated oils.

It seems like a common theme in all the above reasons for using trans fats was for keeping food shelf stable.

At what point does it stop becoming food and simply become preservatives?