Mrs. Fields goes trans fat free

With trans fats becoming one of the major concerns contributing to heart disease in both men and women, it is time Australia recognises the dangers of unsaturated fats. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not only inessential, they place consumers at an increased risk of coronary heart disease.  At present it is the United States that is leading the way in the reduction of these synthetic fats, but there are signs that a sea change in Australian attitudes is in the offing.

Australian CEO of international cookie franchise Mrs. Fields, Andrew Benefield,  believes one of the reasons Australia is not jumping on board with the ban is due to Australia’s preference for self-regulation and the cost of alternatives.

“Artificial trans fats are used by manufacturers in part to prolong the shelf life of products and help them stay crispy on the shelf,” says Benefield. But, “Trans fats not only raise cholesterol levels, they also deplete good cholesterol which helps protect against heart disease,” says Benefield.

Despite trans fats being a staple of food products such as cookies and doughnuts, he said Mrs Fields baked goods are trans fat-free.

“This is mainly due to our use of butter instead of cheap, partially hydrogenated margarines. When we do have to use margarine we use one that is trans fat free, since it provides a more delicate texture. The margarine we use is made using one of several new technologies that have been developed over the past few years,” he explained.

The problem, Benefield adds, is the costs of these new technologies. The increased cost of these means many of their foreign competitors haven’t been able to “justify the expenses.”  With no restrictions imposed in Australia and a lack of knowledge by the Australian public customers are not demanding it, and therefore there isn’t the demand to stop using trans fats.

“For them it has become a question of economics. It becomes obvious that our competitors have the options open now to eliminate trans fats in their products,” says Benefield.

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