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Healthy Crisco?

Heather Gehlert: Good news for synthetic lard lovers...
Smuckers, the manufacturer of Crisco, announced last month that it will be eliminating nearly all trans fat from its shortening.

According to an article in Consumer Reports, each 1-tablespoon serving of Crisco shortening "will contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, instead of its original 1.5 grams."

This is big news considering Crisco pioneered the development of industrially created trans fat. Although some trans fat occurs naturally (in cow milk, for example), most of today's trans fats are the byproduct of partially hydrogenating plant oils -- a process that, according to Wikipedia, was developed in the early 20th century and became commercialized in 1911 with the introduction of Crisco.

Before they became linked to coronary heart disease, partially hydrogenated oils were wildly popular because they are handy for baking and can help increase a product's shelf life.

The Consumer Reports article states that the new Crisco is still just as effective for baking and tastes pretty much the same:
To see just how well the new shortening stacked up against the older one, Consumer Reports' testers baked two blueberry pies, using both formulations. Crumb for crumb, they found the two desserts to be practically interchangeable: Both formulations produced crusts that were flaky, had a mild flavor, and were relatively easy to work with.
But, trans fat or not, the reformulated Crisco is not exactly healthy. Each serving still contains 3 grams of saturated fat.

And Crisco's new labels may be misleading to consumers. Although the reformulated Crisco still has small amounts of artery-clogging trans fat, the company can now claim zero grams of trans fat on its product labels because the FDA only requires manufacturers to disclose trans fat if the amount exceeds 0.5 grams per serving.
Heather Gehlert is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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