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Chefs whining about trans fat ban


paulraphael
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Aparently even some acclaimed chefs in NYC are upset about this ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/11/nyregion/11fat.html

Does it strike anyone else as odd that experienced chefs think they need crisco to make good pastry? I'd be embarassed to admit it, and I'm not even a pro. I find shortening based crusts to be so bland that I don't care what the texture is. And it seems like a simple matter of skill to produce a pretty flaky crust with pure butter (especially with good butter).

If you still can't get the texture you want, there are so many possibilities: trans fat-free shortening, leaf lard, suet, goose fat, or if you're really obsessed with flakiness, just make the damn thing with puff pastry.

Is there anyone who really prefers a shortening based tart shell to a (skillfully made) butter one?

Notes from the underbelly

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Not me - I can't stand the greasy film shortening-based products leave on my tongue! Don't even get me started on "buttercream" that's basically sweetened Crisco - blech!

I don't really get all the fuss, especially since - as you mention - alternate products are available. Trans-free shortenings give you the same properties of regular, just without all the terrible stuff.

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I don't care so much about shortening, but I get uneasy when the government wants to regulate the types of fats I can use.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Is there anyone who really prefers a shortening based tart shell to a (skillfully made) butter one?

Probably not, but I bet there are quite a few people who would prefer a butter and shortening crust to one that is either all-butter or all-shortening.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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It is absurd for the government to legislate fois gras and shortening while allowing sugar to damage the pancreas, dim the eye and rot the teeth. White flour has no nutritional value and routinely destroys blood chemistry.

In "The Making of a Pastry Chef" Andrew MacLauchlan asked eleven pastry chefs to list their most vital ingredients, most listed chocolate, six listed butter, several listed fruits and various spices.

Jacques Torres listed: all of them

Probably came out more like, "Aul ov dem" :biggrin:

Yah think?!

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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It is absurd for the government to legislate fois gras and shortening while allowing sugar to damage the pancreas, dim the eye and rot the teeth. White flour has no nutritional value and routinely destroys blood chemistry.

Be patient -- I have a feeling the government will get around to regulating this sooner or later. Just like the drug war -- the government will make the law consistent by banning things that are currently legal, rather than legalizing things that are currently banned.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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It is absurd for the government to legislate fois gras and shortening while allowing sugar to damage the pancreas, dim the eye and rot the teeth. White flour has no nutritional value and routinely destroys blood chemistry.

Well, fois gras is an ethics issue, not a health issue, so it's not the same thing.

As far as sugar and white flour doing horrible things, I have yet to see any clinical evidence of them being the villains that certain health food communities make them out to be. And I've done a lot of searches through orignal research on Pub Med looking for it. On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

In general I've believed the axiom that there are no bad foods, only bad diets ... but trans fats call this into question. They really appear to be as bad as the hype suggests.

Notes from the underbelly

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Aparently even some acclaimed chefs in NYC are upset about this ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/11/nyregion/11fat.html

Does it strike anyone else as odd that experienced chefs think they need crisco to make good pastry? I'd be embarassed to admit it, and I'm not even a pro. I find shortening based crusts to be so bland that I don't care what the texture is. And it seems like a simple matter of skill to produce a pretty flaky crust with pure butter (especially with good butter).

If you still can't get the texture you want, there are so many possibilities: trans fat-free shortening, leaf lard, suet, goose fat, or if you're really obsessed with flakiness, just make the damn thing with puff pastry.

Is there anyone who really prefers a shortening based tart shell to a (skillfully made) butter one?

Well, I think it may be the principal.

They'll come for the trans fat-free shortening next, and if they knew leaf lard was being used, they would take that, suet! ask a nutritionist what they think of suet - gone, goose fat will kill ya you know, and that puff pastry is just pure butter which = fat.

Sad.

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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease, and sat fat happens to constitute a much higher proportion of our fat intake than does transfats. So, shouldn't we ban butter in favor of trans-fat-free shortening?

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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White flour has no nutritional value and routinely destroys blood chemistry.

I can't let this one pass. I assume/hope it's hyperbole, but would anyway like to point out that it's a ridiculous assertion if not deliberate hyperbole. There are plenty of peoples throughout history who have subsisted largely on food products made of white flour, so it is incorrect on its face to say that it has no nutritional value. As to whether it "destroys blood chemistry," I've never seen anything with any credibility whatsoever to suggest such a thing.

Here are some interesting and relevant quotes from "On Food and Cooking" (1st Ed):

"...the popular view today is that whole grain bread, because it contains the vitamin-rich germ and fiber-rich bran, is more nutritious and better for our general health than refined flour breads.  This, in turn, is a relatively recent reaction against centuries, even millennia, of a rather unreflective preference for lighter breads.

"...as for whole wheat in particular: it is true that whole grain flour contains more protein, minerals and vitamins than refined flour, including as it does the nutritionally valuable germ and aleurone layer, as well as the mostly indigestible bran.  But it is also true that most of these nutrients pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed because the indigestible carbohydrates complex with them and speed their passage out of the system.  The nutrients in white bread do not suffer such losses.

"...the epidemic of rickets that struck the children of Dublin after three years of wartime rations of dairy products and whole wheat bread.  The combination of marginal supplies of calcium and vitamin D and the calcium-complexing activity of phytic acid, which is concentrated in the aleurone layer, was enough to tip the balance from health to serious disease.  Similar problems with iron and zinc have been studied among the poor in Egypt and Iran."

--

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I don't care so much about shortening, but I get uneasy when the government wants to regulate the types of fats I can use.

Once you start banning food substances, 'tis a slippery slope.....

That's it. There are plenty of people who would love to regulate things like the number of calories or fat grams that can be served in a meal. It would seem at least arguably arbitrary, from a public health perspective, to ban trans-fats, which account for a small portion of total fat intake, but allow the sale of things like giant dishes of alfedo, or Hardee's ThickBurgers. I really can't muster much indignation about missing trans-fats at the restaurant, I'm just leary of the slippery slope.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease, and sat fat happens to constitute a much higher proportion of our fat intake than does transfats. So, shouldn't we ban butter in favor of trans-fat-free shortening?

It's not that black and white. Saturated fats are a natural part of the human diet, as they have been for millenia, and in moderation do not appear to be a major problem. The Inuit tribe eats a diet consisting largely of saturated fat and they don't have lower rates of heart disease than Americans. The French eat butter and lard and goose fat in impressive quantities and they also don't have our high rates of heart disease (although that appears to be changing, along with the rate of obesity, now that our fast food chains are infiltrating).

Meanwhile, China has a very high rate of heart disease, and fairly low saturated fat intake. As early as fifteen years ago researchers were establishing a link between heart disease in china and partially hydrogenated oils.

You could make a case that saturated fats aren't great, but you could just as easily make a case that trans fats have no redeeeming qualities whatsoever, outside of the convenience they provide for processed food manufacturers (and lazy chefs).

Notes from the underbelly

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I really don't see any whining by the chefs in the article. There's 'some trepidation', and 'less confident' regarding the making of cookies in particular and pastry in general in order to satisfy the new guidelines which to me is reasonable.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I feel like all of the people who whine about the trans fat ban don't understand exactly how dangerous this substance is. It's SO much more damaging that saturated fat, so I'd sooner eat lard or butter, any day. There is also the common misconception that trans fat makes food taste better. I even heard this repeated on CNN, and I couldn't believe it.

Speaking of chefs using trans fats, is there really a way to know if you're eating it in a restaurant? The Daily News reported that this ban only applies to restaurants that provide nutritional information to customers, so that leaves MOST restaurants still able to use trans fats, which is disturbing.

I was diagnosed with heart disease at 44, and I have to wonder if I could have avoided it if I hadn't made so many pies with shortening crusts.

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Interesting. My take on it is that it is the legislators that are the ones doing the whining. And making pie crust does not contribute to ill health it's not eating properly that contributes to ill health.

So are you saying if you had ingested the same amount of pie with crust made from butter you would not have heart disease?

Edited to say: If you eat salads and grilled foods you will eat much less bad fat. So if you order differently in restaurants you will avoid the bad stuff whatever it is y'know?!

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease

Is there really a "mountain" of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease? While there have been a few studies, I wouldn't characterize the evidence as anything near mountainous -- or near conclusive.

It has been repeated so many times that trans fats are toxic that few people are even bothering to question that claim anymore. The whole discussion has moved off that point and into the territory of personal choice/freedom -- like that's an argument likely to persuade a bunch of unelected officials. We should be going back to the basic scientific proof and asking if it's really strong enough to justify intrusive public regulation: 1- Are the health risks of trans fats really well documented enough, 2- Is the evidence conclusive that the replacements for trans fats are more healthful, and if so how much more healthful, 3- Have conclusive-sounding claims about trans fats been made in the past, and accepted by the government, and have they turned out to be true?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm all for the banning of trans fats. I'm hoping it will put Magnolia Bakery out of business. See post above regarding "sweetened Crisco".

And while they're at it, I want that nasty white bread stuff from the grocery store banned, too.

And all Campbell's "soups".

What about bad donuts? Dunkin' Donuts should go down.

McDonald's. The entire concept. Should be banned.

What passes for an animal cracker these days. Blech.

Commercial candy bars.

Anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.

Nasty foods. Banned.

:wink:

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease

Is there really a "mountain" of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease? While there have been a few studies, I wouldn't characterize the evidence as anything near mountainous -- or near conclusive.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_docsum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_DocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_DocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_DocSum

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...l=pubmed_DocSum

This is the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of published studies in peer reviewed journals that come to similar conclusions. It's hard to find this kind of consensus on any nutritional topic.

Notes from the underbelly

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Those are a lot of links to articles I can't access, however some of the abstracts read more like editorials than like studies -- indeed I think they may be editorials, especially the ones by "Willett WC." I also followed some of the sidebar links and found this abstract:

Data supporting a relation between trans fatty acid intake and CHD risk are equivocal compared with extensive data from studies in animals and humans linking saturated fat intake to CHD.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...st_uids=7661131

In terms of an article I can read, the New York Times -- at least in this article -- does not concur with the conclusion that there's a consensus:

The National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the Food and Drug Administration have all come to the same conclusion: Trans fats are on a par with saturated fats, like butter or lard. Both increase cholesterol levels and most people would be better off if they ate less of all of them. Period.
Some studies of populations have shown what appear to be weak associations between consumption of trans fat and increased risk of heart disease, independent of the amount of saturated fat in the diet. But Dr. Grundy and others said the association is not strong enough to serve as the basis for a public recommendation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/weekinre...=rssnyt&emc=rss

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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On the other hand, there are mountains of evidence linking trans fats to heart disease.

Right, and there is also a mountain of evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease, and sat fat happens to constitute a much higher proportion of our fat intake than does transfats. So, shouldn't we ban butter in favor of trans-fat-free shortening?

It's not that black and white. Saturated fats are a natural part of the human diet, as they have been for millenia,

Well, for that matter, so have trans-fats. In fact, about 1/4 of the average person's trans-fat consumption comes from animal products, where it is formed by the microbial hydrogenation. Butter, for instance, has a good bit of all-natural trans-fat. And in any event, the food police rationale for limiting saturated fat would not be that saturated fat is unsafe in any quantities and therefore should be eliminated from the diet, but rather that a large proportion of people are consuming too much of it, and therefore its use should be minimized.

The Inuit tribe eats a diet consisting largely of saturated fat and they don't have lower rates of heart disease than Americans.

Did you mean to include the word "don't" in that sentence? I will assume not, since 1) as the sentence stands it doesnt support your position, and 2) in the next sentence you say that the French "also" don't have high rates of heart disease, and 3) since the Inuit are often described as having low incidence of cardiovascular disease despite consuming large amounts of saturated fat. I researched this a few years back in the context of Atkins-type dieting, and found that there is really a lack of evidence on this point. For instance, Bjerregaard et al (2003), in their review of mortality statistics of Inuit in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska found that "the mortality from all cardiovascular diseases combined is not lower among the Inuit than in white comparison populations." Furthermore, they report that mortality from stroke is actually higher in the Inuit than in comparison populations. If you have recent, high quality mortality statistic that contradict this, I'd love to see them.

Bjerregaard et al, 2003. Low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit--what is the evidence? Atherosclerosis. 166(2):351-7.

The French eat butter and lard and goose fat in impressive quantities and they also don't have our high rates of heart disease (although that appears to be changing, along with the rate of obesity, now that our fast food chains are infiltrating).

It is true that the French have a relatively high intake of saturated fat and a relatively low rate of heart disease, and this has been recognized for many years as being something of a paradox. However, if you look at a large group of countries and compare them by sat fat intake and heart disease, as Artaud-Wild et al (1993) did, you see that France is interesting because it is the exception to this rule. Artaud-Wild et al examined 40 countries, comparing the death rates from heart disease and the intake of cholesterol and sat fat. There results show an obvious and remarkable relationship between the two, with higher cholesterol/sat fat intake being positively related to heart disease mortality (r value=0.78). Only two of the forty countries, France and Finland, are obvious outliers. The rest cluster remarkably close to the expected values. The Artaud-Wild et al paper is not available online, but you can see the graph reprinted in Ferrières (2004), figure 1. So the French paradox need not be seen as evidence against the hypothesis that high saturated fat intake increases the risk of heart disease, but possibly as evidence that some other factor unique to France moderates the effect of fat consumption on heart disease risk. All in all, I think the evidence is pretty inconclusive either way.

Artaud-Wild et al, 1993. Differences in coronary mortality can be explained by differences in cholesterol and saturated fat intakes in 40 countries but not in France and Finland. A paradox. Circulation 88:2771–9.

Ferrières, 2004. The French paradox: lessons for other countries. Heart 90:107-111.

Meanwhile, China has a very high rate of heart disease, and fairly low saturated fat intake.

The above statement would appear to be incorrect. In fact, though the rate of heart disease is increasing in China, it is currently very low, only a fraction of what it is in the US. In fact, it apepars to be lower in China than in France, which you cite above as a country haivng a low rate of heart disease. According to the WHO's MONICA program, which monitors coronary event rates in 38 populations in 21 countries, Beijing has the lowest event rate of all the populations studied (81 per 100,000 men per year; 35 per 100,000 women per year). This is actually quite a bit lower than the rate for Tolouse, France, also monitored by the MONICA program.

Tunstall-Pedoe H, et al, 1994. Myocardial infarction and coronary deaths in the World Health Organization MONICA Project. Registration procedures, event rates, and case-fatality rates in 38 populations from 21 countries in four continents. : Circulation 90(1):583-612.

As to why China's heart disease rate is increasing rapidly, there are at least a few reasons. First, China has adopted tobacco smoking at an amazing rate, and now has one of the highest prevalences of tobacco smoking in the world, 60% in adult men, and tobacco smoking is probably the single biggest preventable risk factor for heart disease. That one factor, all by itself and without even considering anything else, predicts a high prevalence of heart disease in China. According to this table on smoking prevalence by country, China is #2 in smoking prevalence out of 46 countries for which there are available data.

Moreover, epidemiological studies of various chinese populations show that in fact it is those consuming greater amounts of saturated fat (e.g. Chinese Singaporean) which have higher rates of heart disease, which again is consistent with the hypothesis that greater sat fat intake predicts greater heart disease risk. For instance, Dwyer et al (2003) found that Chinese Singaporeans have about twice the rate of heart disease mortality of the Chinese in Hong Kong and mainland China, and after examing several risk factor profiles in these locales, concluded that "although there was little difference in total fat intake, a higher consumption of dietary saturated fat and lower consumption of polyunsaturated fat, accompanied by higher serum cholesterol, appear to explain the relatively high CHD mortality in Singapore compared with Hong Kong and mainland China."

Dwyer et al, 2003. The emergence of coronary heart disease in populations of Chinese descent. Atherosclerosis 167, pp. 303-310

You could make a case that saturated fats aren't great, but you could just as easily make a case that trans fats have no redeeeming qualities whatsoever, outside of the convenience they provide for processed food manufacturers (and lazy chefs).

Obviously "redeeeming qualities" will be in the eye of the beholder, and in the case of trans-fats, there are in fact those who would argue that there are redeeming values. For instance, Cook's Illustrated compared the newer trans-free shortening to the older version and found that, while the differences were subtle, there were texture differences favoring the trans version in some of the tests. Whether or not you or I disagree with that should be, I think, immaterial -- if a chef thinks his pastry is just a little more flaky with some trans-fat shortening added in, I think he should be able to use it.

And to return to the slippery slope, you could certainly find plenty of nutritionists that would argue that a Hardee's burger with 1400calories and 107g of fat, or plate of alfredo with 100g of fat, or a serving of creme brulee with 50g of fat have "no redeeeming qualities whatsoever." I would disagree with that -- they have, for many people, the redeeming quality of being pleasurable to eat!- but the chef who might want to use a little trans shortening obviously could make the very same argument.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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