The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
4:32 PM Sun, Sept. 23rd

The fight over trans fats

PRESCOTT ‹ Kendall Jaspers uses partially hydrogenated soy-bean oil to fry the freshly cut potatoes he serves at his down-town restaurant ­ and that's the way his customers like it.

Jaspers, proprietor of Kendall's Famous Burgers & Ice Cream, said he's tried canola oil in the past with disappointing results. "There is absolutely a taste issue. There is a difference," he said.

The issue of cutting down on artificial trans fats is a thorny one for Jaspers and other restaurant owners in the wake of New York City officials voting for the na-tion's first major municipal ban on the fats in cooking.

Some restaurant owners say that they don't like the turn ofevents in New York because it tramples on people's civil liber-ties ­ not to mention the potential impact a change in food flavor and prospective higher costs will have on the bottom line.

"It's interesting to see the trend of city and state governments get-ting involved in people's health de-cisions," Jaspers said.

Trans fats occur naturally insmall amounts in dairy and meatproducts. The trans fats the New York City officials are going after are fats created as a side effect of the partial hy-drogenation of plant oils ‹ a process developed in the early 1900s and first commercialized as Crisco in 1911, according to Wikipedia.

The allure of the trans fats is that they have longer staying power.

"(Canola oil) breaks down faster in the course of a day," he said. "Even (over a single day), you can tell that it doesn't hold up as well."

Jaspers said frying oilis one of his top seven expenses, and he would give alternative oils a chance if they were cost-effective.

"If it was readily avail-able within 10 percent to 15 percent of what I'm paying now I'd probably try it," he said. "It's a significant cost for me."

Mike Paper, owner of Pearl's Place on Whiskey Row, said he made the choice to not do any deep-frying at his restaurant.

"I get more complaints by not doing French fries,"he said. "We try to servehealthier things. Thingsthat have flavor."

However, Paper added, restaurant owners and patrons should reserve the right to eat what they like.

"To eat healthy is achoice," he said. "We should have choices in this country."

Darden Restaurants Inc.,the parent of Red Lobster and Olive Garden res-taurant chains, recently announced plans to stop using oils with trans fats and phase in canola oil in its more than 1,260 restaurants nationwide, according to Reuters. Theswitch follows similarmoves from restaurantchains including Wendy's, KFC and Taco Bell.

Jaspers' menu offers skinless and boneless chicken breasts and sa-lads. "You give people a choice and let them make it," he said.

Paper ponders what new laws lawmakers willcook up next. "What are they going to do next, ban Ben & Jerry's?" he said. "Who's to say?"

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com