In the news business we have a saying: "Doctors bury their mistakes-we correct ours." So here goes. In my last editorial I addressed the topic of trans fats (a.k.a. trans fatty acids) in the hopes of offering processors some thoughts on how the new FDA labeling will affect them.
But it seems I overstated the "facts."
While establishing the background for the points I wanted to make, I stated that recent research had confirmed that trans fats were more nutritionally risky than saturated fats and that that research led to the new FDA regulations. After our August issue was published, a reader questioned what "recent research" on trans fats had spurred the FDA into action. Turns out I was a bit fuzzy on the background. Actually, the ongoing concerns about trans fats stem from a Harvard University study conducted in 1994.
Now I should have realized that FDA doesn't get spurred that quickly.
While there has been some follow-up research conducted, the FDA simply took several years in figuring out what kind of labeling requirements it should develop based on the consensus that consumers should strictly limit their intake of trans fatty acids.
That Harvard study, by the way, found that trans fats, like saturated fats, raise your level of LDL cholesterol, but trans fats also lower your level of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. And with cholesterol levels out of whack, you are more likely to suffer from heart disease. Trans fats occur naturally to a small degree in dairy foods. But they are found in the highest concentrations in products like stick margarine and baked and fried foods in the form of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Until a few years ago, hydrogenated vegetable oil was used extensively by the food industry as a "healthier" alternative to saturated fats.
Speaking of getting it right, this month's issue contains a fine article from the nutritional research team at Dairy Management Inc. about how protein research is providing more evidence of the specific nutritional value of dairy components. Dairy-derived ingredients get it right in ways we are just beginning to understand.
Also, this month, our plant feature spotlights the newly expanded Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans, Vt. Ben & Jerry's has a completely new approach to its production and distribution operations, and the newly expanded plant and warehouse are key to it all. And, it may have taken a while to get it right, but that zany ice cream company from Vermont is about to launch a full line of organic ice cream.
Ben & Jerry's is marking its 25th anniversary this year, by the way. So, if you like ice cream, pick up a pint of your favorite B&J flavor to celebrate. Speaking of anniversaries, and getting things right, my colleague Donna Berry reached her 10-year milestone at Dairy Foods in August. Congratulations Donna!