In professional kitchens, artificial trans fat is found not just in oils, margarines, and shortenings, but in many prepared foods, partially pre-cooked foods, and mixes. Did you know, for instance, that the frozen French fries you’ve been cooking in healthy 0 grams trans fat oil may still contain trans fat?
Trans fat in any of these types of prepared foods must be restricted to less that 0.5 grams per serving. Fortunately, finding prepared foods that comply with this restriction is easy.
Here are some items that sometimes contain artificial trans fat:
- Baked goods (cookies, crackers, cakes, pies, muffins, fried taco shells, tortilla wraps, and some breads, such as hamburger buns)
- Toppings for baked goods and ice cream (sprinkles, chocolate chips, non-dairy whipped toppings, syrups, icings, and candy coatings)
- Pre-mixed products (cake, pancake, and chocolate drink mix; pizza dough; laminated doughs)
- Pre-fried or par fried frozen foods (French fries, onion ring, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, frozen pie crust, frozen dough, egg rolls)
- Nacho cheese sauce, salad dressing, non-dairy creamer
- Bread crumbs and croutons Note: these foods may be exempt from the NYC trans fat regulations if they are served to customers in the manufacturer’s sealed, original packaging
What to do about unlabeled products
Fresh, unprocessed agricultural products such as fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, and raw meat, poultry, and eggs do not require a label. Everything else needs some form of documentation. Check your kitchen and storerooms for unlabeled products. If you find an item without a label, ask your supplier to provide a label or appropriate documentation (described below).
If you are buying unlabeled baked goods or other freshly-made foods directly from the producer, a letter from the producer instead of a label is acceptable. The letter should contain the following information:
- The producer's name, address, and phone number
- Item name
- Serving size
- Item ingredients, listed from heaviest to lightest
If the words "margarine," "shortening," or "partially hydrogenated [vegetable] oil" appear in the ingredients, the letter must include the trans fat content per serving.
Choosing new products with 0 grams of trans fat
Manufacturers of prepared foods and mixes have been working hard to eliminate artificial trans fat. Many familiar brands are already made with 0 grams of trans fat. If your suppliers are not stocking 0 grams trans fat versions of the products you need, talk to them about making the switch as soon as possible.