TRANS FATS

 

TRANS FAT IN FOODS:

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) advises that trans fats should be minimized in the diet. There are at least three types of trans fats in foods:

(1) The worst type that we must be very careful about is the synthetic trans fat produced when vegetable oil is hydrogenated using a metal catalyst and hydrogen under pressure. This process puts extra hydrogen atoms into some of the chemical bonds of the fatty acid molecule and converts the oil into a more saturated type which is more solid, less reactive and less digestible but which does not go rancid. Another type of highly suspect synthetic fat is interesterified oil (used as a substitute for hydrogenated oils!).
(2) A second structural type of trans fat is produced at very low levels when foods, especially meats and oils, are overheated or charred. They are also harmful.
(3) A third type of trans fat is natural. Low levels are found in butter, dairy and some meats. Butter contains a low level (6 %) of trans oleic acid type fat which is considered safe.

How many foods are harmful due to trans fats? A very large number... Some have very high levels of trans fat. The good news is that a few food manufacturers are substituting safer natural oils for the hydrogenated ones. Remember that a zero trans fat label does not mean that the food is safe. The FDA permits les than 0.5 grams to be listed as zero. The label may list 0 g. of trans fat and still have up to 0.49 g per serving. Here is a partial list of the “bad” foods with synthetic trans fat still on the market in 2009:

Baked Goods: Almost all have trans fats (due to hydrogenated oils)
Bread: Almost all have trans fats
Butter: Has a safer natural trans fat.
Cakes & Frosting: Almost all have trans fats.
Cereals: Some have trans fats.
Candy: Some have trans fats
Cookies: Almost all have trans fats
Crackers: Some have trans fats
Fast Food: Almost all have trans fats
French Fries: Almost all have trans fats in oil
Fried Meats: Almost all have trans fats in oil
Ice Cream: Some brands have trans fat
Lard: Some brands have trans fat
Margarine: Most brands have more than 35% trans fat.
Peanut Butter: Some brands have trans fat
Pies: Almost all have trans fats in dough.
Pizzas: Almost all have trans fats in dough.
Popcorn: Almost all have trans fats in oil
Potato Chips: Almost all have trans fats in oil
Puddings: Almost all have trans fats
Vegetable Shortening: Almost all have trans fats

Arterial plaque, heart disease, atherosclerosis and other serious medical problems are caused by the synthetic trans fats. Interesterified fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol also cause problems.

 

 

TRANS FAT ANALYSIS

 

Trans fat refers primarily to the synthetic product made by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils (corn, canola, soy bean, palm, coconut oil) to obtain trans fats and shortening. Ordinary vegetable oils are subjected to hydrogenation under pressure over a catalyst, e.g. Raney nickel, in order to introduce hydrogen into the double bonds of the oil. In all cases a more saturated fat is produced which has an extremely long shelf-life but is not digestible and is believed to be responsible for very high numbers of fatalities worldwide. Arterial plaque, arteriosclerosis and other serious health problems are caused by deposits of this fat. Very small amounts of natural trans fats, e.g. trans oleic acid and some other natural trans fats are found in some materials but they apparently do not cause a health problem. When animal or vegetable fats are overheated, another type of harmful trans fat is produced. Interesterified fats are synthetic and are believed to cause health problems also.

The number of “bad” fat products still on the market in 2009 is extremely high even after the FDA requirement in 2006 of reporting trans fat content on the nutrition label Almost all margarine, most breads, most cookies, some peanut butter, and many puddings have high levels of hydrogenated vegetable fats or shortening. New York City and some other U.S. cities have passed laws against serving foods with trans fats in restaurants. Three books have been published about the dangers of trans fats. Many food products claim zero trans fat but this only means that less than 0.5g of trans fat is in one serving. However, consuming several items daily with “zero” fat could be very harmful.

Polysaturated fats in general are the “bad” fats whereas the monounsaturated fats are considered “good” fats. Monounsaturated fats such as omega 3, 6, and 9 fats are healthy and are present in salmon oil, tuna oil, and flaxseed oil, Refined omega 3 from fish oil is considered to be very healthy.

Our laboratory can analyze the synthetic trans fats in foods using a gas chromatograph with flame ionization detection (GC/FID using the AOAC method). This technique allows a separation and quantitation of the trans fats as well as other fats (obtaining a fat profile). A solvent extraction process is required to remove the fat from the food prior to analysis. Cholesterol requires a different separation step prior to GC/FID.

FOOD TESTING

Applied Consumer Services, Inc. conducts all types of food tests and analyses, including nutrition analysis for labeling, assay of vitamins and minerals, quality control, preservatives, trans fat, fatty acid profiles, shelf-life, microbiological tests, and many more. We also conduct analyses of all types of food supplements and herbal products
The majority of the tests are conducted in accordance with AOAC or USP methods.
We also offer consultation to clients for help in making a new food product, use of preservatives, microbiological tests needed, shelf-life tests, etc.

For the nutrition label, we tabulate our analytical results in the same format used on the label as required by the FDA. Based on the analysis results we give general nutrition claims for the front label. We analyze for protein, total fats, saturated fats, unsaturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, total carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, sodium, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. If required, we also run potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin E, B vitamins, etc.

Based on accelerated or real-time test results for changes in bacteria, mold, and/or organoleptic factors (color, odor, taste, texture), we can determine the approximate shelf-life of the food or beverage product. If needed, we can assist in reformulating the product to achieve a longer shelf-life including the use of approved and suitable preservatives.

We can run screenings for almost all types of bacteria and mold in food products. We run total plate count, E-coli, total coliform, fecal coliform, salmonella, staphylococcus A., pseudomonas, listeria, clostridium botulinum, total yeast and mold counts, etc. In the case of contaminated foods, we run forensic tests for harmful microbes and toxins such as pesticides, drugs, detergents, and other chemicals.

We can develop a new or improved food product. We will conduct some preliminary research and propose a food recipe for the client to evaluate. We have helped dozens of clients develop new or better food products. In some cases, we can make a small trial batch of the product for evaluation. If an existing product is to be duplicated or improved, we often can deformulate or reverse engineer the product and propose a formula. All rights belong to the client.

Using ion chromatography, we can run a sugar profile of most food products. Using a total sugar gravimetric assay we can determine the total reducing and non-reducing sugars. For most supplements and herbal products, we can test for drugs or other added ingredients, contaminates such as toxic heavy metals and chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and other organics. For herbal products, we can determine the type of herbs if standards are available. Also for herbs we can determine the stability at room temperature or under accelerated conditions.