Thursday, September 14, 2017

Canadians, Please Step Away From The Chip Wagons

My office's local chip wagon (for Americans, think of a food truck, but where fries are their dedicated specialty) is a case study as to why trans-fats need to be regulated out of the food supply.

Walking by the truck with Dr. Aric Sudicky we noticed outside of it, were empty fryer oil buckets. The buckets were a perfect size to brine a turkey and so I asked if I could have one. Kindly, the chip wagon folks said, "sure".

When we saw its trans-fat content our jaws dropped.

It contained 1.9g of trans-fat in every 9.2g of deep fryer shortening.

A quick spin online found us an article that reported that 17.1% of the weight of a french fry came from its absorbed frying oil.

A purchase of a large fries, a kitchen scale, and a smidgen of math later and it turns out that there are a staggering 20.5g of trans-fat in a large serving of our chip wagon's fries.

Here's the video we shot to help put all of this in perspective.

Non-naturally occurring trans-fats, according to the head of Health Canada's trans-fat task force (and everyone really), are a toxin unsafe in any amount, and 20.5g? Well that's the equivalent amount found in 11.4 teaspoons of the most trans-fat laden stick margarine we could find in the supermarket, the No Frills No Name All Vegetable Shortening which according to its package packed 3.5g of trans fat into every 2 teaspoons.

Now Health Canada had promised back in 2007 to regulate trans-fat out of the food supply if voluntary measures failed, and despite those measures' epic failure, for inexplicable reasons, regulation never happened.

The good news though is that I have it on good authority that Health Canada will be moving imminently on the trans-fat file. Given people have literally died waiting for them, their announcement can't come too soon.

[Interesting short side note: When looking up the margarine's trans-fat content online (I was looking for better photos than the one that had been shared with me), I found that No Frills' No Name All Vegetable Shortening was reported to only contain 0.1g of trans-fat per 2 teaspoons (as opposed to the actual label's reported 3.5).

Seemed really odd until I also noticed, in a very faint and difficult to read font (that's it in the hard to read light grey at the bottom) the line,
"The values stated are approximate and may not be fully representational of this products (sic) vitamins, minerals, and ingredients"
. Um...WTF?]

[And lastly, huge thanks to Dr. Aric Sudicky who shot and edited the video. Aric is a resident finishing up his last year of training and is spending the month with me. You can follow Aric on Twitter, and he's much more active on Instagram than me (I'm old).]