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Universal joins the 'no trans fat' movement

2006-12-21

By Robert Niles: Universal announced yesterday that it will join Busch and Disney in eliminating trans fatty acids from its cooking oil and other food items in its U.S. theme parks.

Disney made its announcement in October. And at that time, Busch responded by pointing out that it had already dumped trans fats at its parks.

From the Universal press release:

Beginning December 24, adults and children will find a healthier approach to eating at Universal's U.S. theme parks. Healthy side dishes and trans-fat-free foods will be widely available throughout all the theme parks.

Universal’s theme parks will now offer healthy side choices for both adults and children at most of its food units. Kid’s meals come with a choice of fruit or trans-fat-free fries and adults will be able to select from either a side salad or trans-fat-free fries. Healthy beverage choices are also available at many locations throughout the parks.

Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios theme parks and Universal Studios Hollywood will also begin cooking and frying with 100 percent trans-fat-free oil throughout most of their facilities. Universal will also work to make nutritional information about its foods available to guests, and is targeting the end of 2007 to be entirely trans-fat free for all its food offerings.

This puts Universal on a more aggressive schedule than Disney, which promised to eliminate trans fat by 2008 (though it lags Busch, which is already there.)

Still waiting to hear from Six Flags and Cedar Fair....

As background, trans fats occur in trace amounts in animal products, but are widely added to margarine and other oils and fats to make them last longer. If you see the words "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list of a product, you can be pretty sure it's got trans fat in it.

Trans fat does lots of proven nasty things to your body, including reducing good cholesterol, increasing bad cholesterol and increasing your likelihood of obesity and heart disease. (Personally, whenever I eat anything with trans fat in it anymore, I get that heavy "food hangover" feeling right away, which just isn't there when I eat fries cooked in non-trans fat oil, or baked goods made with real butter and not margarine.)

Readers' Opinions

From RANDY TAYLOR on December 22, 2006 at 7:32 AM
I'm all for eating healthy and all but we need to address the true cause of the obesity epidemice in this country, LACK OF EXCERSIZE! The lack of physical activity in adults and especially kids today is the major reasson why Americans are so fat. The fact that many schools have all but eliminated physical education and have legislated recess to the point where kids can no longer run and play any type of contact sport any more is the major cause, not vending machines, etc. When we all decide to stop watching so much tv and tear ourselves away from our pcs and video games (I'm as guilty as anyone), we will all be better off for it.
From Derek Potter on December 22, 2006 at 9:44 PM
Agreed. Things like trans fats have proven to be not good for your body, and organic is always better, but until we change our behavior and alter eating habits, the obesity epidemic won't go away. A bag of Doritos has no trans fat...does that mean eating them is good...not if you eat the whole bag. American people, businesses, and government need something to blame the obesity epidemic on, and the target of the week is trans fat, when really it's our American fast food mentality and our lack of moderation that is mostly responsible. It's great that companies are getting rid of unnecessary additives, and I'm all for losing them, but it won't solve the problem.
From Matthew Baker on December 23, 2006 at 3:12 AM
Well, I know of one good source of exercise right off: go to theme parks. :-)

Moderation is indeed the key. This trans-fat issue is no doubt the current big health trend. It's a good one: personally I've been aware of trans fat for several years now--well before it became front-page news--and have made an effort to limit or outright avoid it where practical. But you gotta wonder if their being phased out will make people lose sight of overall good dietary practices. Trans fat or no, moderation in all fats and oils is still the way to go. Also (and I'm not entirely clear on this) I've read that the high temperatures used in the deep-frying you see with fast food tend to "denature" oil somewhat, making the oil more unhealthful than it otherwise would have been. Which basically means it's still a good idea to moderate the fried foods.

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