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McDonald's Canada, U.S., switches to trans fat free oil blend for french fries

Let me cut to the chase:

Potato Type Serving size grams Total calories Calories from fat Total fat grams
McDonald's Fries, large* 177 560 243 27
Frozen fries, oven baked** 177 237 83 9.24
Hash browns** 177 386 183 20.36
Mashed potato (whole milk added)** 177 147 9 1
Baked Potato** 177 165 2 0.23

* McDonald's online nutrition calculator. ** USDA food search database SR20

We know that synthetic trans fats, created when vegetable oils are partially hydrogenated, are bad for us. Unlike natural fats, which are part of a healthy diet, synthetic trans fats serve no purpose for the function of our body, but they do a great job of increasing risk to coronary heart disease, health experts say.

So, are french fries deep fried in non trans fat oil good for us? The total grams of fat are still too high, total calories too high, and acrylamides are high as well.

Acrylamide is a chemical compound used in the manufacturing of plastic, rubber, dyes, and other processes. Acrylamide is also made when carbohydrate foods are cooked at high temperatures, such as frying, deep frying, and baking. Acrylamide content of drinking water is regulated, but acrylamide content of food is under review. Acrylamide consumption is linked to cancer risk, according to health authorities.

Health Canada statement about acrylamides.

CBC Marketplace article on acrylamides.

We need fat in our diet, but only around 50 to 70g each day.

Look at the difference in fat between oven baked fries (frozen, packaged) and the deep fried Mcdonald's fries. The McDonald's fries have 300% more fat. The same amount of baked potato has 0.23 g of fat. Deep fried french fries have 1170% more fat than a baked potato.

How do you feel about a cooking method that increases the fat content of a food by over 1000%? Does that sound like a good idea?

By the end of 2008 McDonald's baked goods will be trans fats reduced, according to a press release on the companies website.

It's interesting that the McDonald's press release does not actually say their fries are trans fat free. What the press release says is, "we successfully completed our transition to a trans fat free canola Oil Blend cooking oil in all McDonald’s Canada restaurants". What is the trans fat free canola oil blended with?

"our fried menu items meet Health Canada’s voluntary trans fat limits"- McDonald's press release.

What are these Health Canada limits?

1. Trans fat limited to 2% of the total fat content for vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines
2. Trans fat limited to 5% of the total fat content for all other foods, including ingredients sold to restaurants

It's great that major fast food chains are reducing trans fats, but be sure to look at nutrition info when you order. "Trans fat free" or "low trans fat" by no means suggests that your food is fat free, low fat, or even close to being a healthy serving of fat or total calories.


2008 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness

Copyright 2004 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca