Topic 2 Tips to reduce trans-fat in the food service sector

Main tip: limit the usage of ingredients that are high in trans-fat or the procedures that increase its content.

In the food service section, the one responsible for the trans-fat content of the foods is the food service personnel.

In this section, a chef or a person affiliated with the food services will come across various tailored advice and tips on how to reduce trans fat in their final dishes.

1. Limit the supply of products high in industrially added/generated trans-fat
  • Purchase only packed fats/oils with a clear indication of their trans-fat content.
  • Favor the usage of fats or oils that are naturally free of trans-fats and under processing, are less likely to produce trans-fatty acids, such as olive oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.
  • Prefer choosing vegetable oils that have not been processed with hydrogenation or refinement. You can find the relevant information on the labels. Someone should always remember that there are other processes that can alter the fatty acids in oils but does not produce many trans-fatty acids, such as inter-esterification.
  • The softness of a fat can be an indicator of trans-fat. Products high in fat are normally softer than their trans-free counterparts. The chef should have this in mind when handling similar products.
  • Products high in trans-fat can remain solid in temperatures that a trans-free alternative could not. The chef should have this in mind when handling similar products.
  • Store vegetable fats in low ambient temperatures.
  • Avoid buying ready-to-eat confectionery, such as cakes with frosting, donuts, breakfast sandwiches and croissants.
  • Avoid buying frozen cakes, pies, frozen muffins, etc.
  • If there is no clear indication about the trans-fat content, the supplier should always ask the manufacturer for it. They should always be able to provide it. It might be wise to also ask for the relevant certification of the product.
  • Prefer having food ingredients from credible suppliers with a long-lasting credibility and proper certification.
  • When ordering ingredients and goods from non-EU countries remember to look for the proper certification on trans-fat content. This is mandatory for a product to be sold at the EU level.
  • Someone should always have in mind that in some countries, the legislation states that only amount above 0.5 grams of trans-fat per portion should be clearly stated. This might mean that if the used amount exceeds the recommended serving (which is often small), the final product will have a sufficient amount of trans-fat. To counter this, look for the proper EU legislation or look at the ingredient section for “fully or partially hydrogenated fat” or “shortening”.
  • In case of doubt, suppliers can submit a sample to a notified food laboratory.
2. Limit the usage of products high in trans-fat in the kitchen
  • Moderate the usage of vegetable oils in foods that undergo thermal processes (i.e. baking, frying). Foods high in fat are more likely to have an amount of non-trans-fat generated into trans-fat.
  • Moderate the usage of dairy products high in fat. As in vegetable oils, the trans-fat content may increase under thermal processes.
  • Limit the usage of high in fat dairy that comes from sheep, goats, and cows. Trans-fat in butter exceeds the 2 grams per 100 grams of product threshold (about 2.5-2.5g).
  • Limit the usage of high-in-fat meat cuts from cows, sheep, or goats. Excess fat can always be trimmed from the cut.
  • The ingredients section in each product should be considered to notice the existence of partially or fully hydrogenated fat. This is an indicator of the existence of trans-fat.
  • Limit the usage of margarine, a plant-based product, often high in trans-fat. Note that some kinds of margarine available are low in trans-fat.
  • To achieve the same result in the consistency/texture of your dough without using excessive butter or dairy fat, try different combinations of vegetable oils and other thickeners
  • Substitute pre-fried French fries with fresh-cut fried ones.
  • Ideally, substitute French fries with other forms such as puree (low usage of butter), or oven-cooked ones.
3. Limit the processes that may increase the trans-fat content in foods
  • Avoid cooking your ingredient in very high temperatures. Deep-frying should be avoided, while frying should be limited.
  • Change the frying vegetable oil regularly (ideally every 1-2 days). The higher the frequency of usage for frying and the higher the temperature that is achieved every time, the higher the trans-fat content will be that will be transferred to the item being fried. Discard used oil in environmentally friendly ways.
  • Control the time and temperature of your dough. Use lower temperature and longer duration of baking to achieve the same result. This will reduce the newly generated trans-fat in your recipe.
  • Avoid preheating vegetable oils.