Tender Loving Cuisine, the top quality home delivery meal service favoured by Sydney's elderly, is waging a war against potentially harmful trans fats.
Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated fats, have been labeled the "worst kind of fats for our health", "health villains" and even "killer fats" by some nutritionists.
In the UK, supermarkets are removing trans fats from their products. US researchers recently revealed that eating foods containing trans fats was more likely to give people "larger abdomens." The City of Chicago has launched an all-out assault, calling on restaurants to remove food containing trans fats from menus. Denmark has simply banned them altogether.
Respected Sydney nutritionist Catherine Saxelby says trans fats raise the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the human body. At the same time they lower the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Trans fats are known to increase abdominal fat which leads to insulin resistance. This, says Saxelby, when combined with poor blood cholesterol levels, significantly raises the risk of serious health problems, especially in the elderly.
The manufacture of commercial fats produces trans fats. This occurs when liquid vegetable oils are hydrogenated (or hardened) to turn them into semi-solids. This process gives them a longer "shelf life", and makes them easier to handle in the food plant.
At Tender Loving Cuisine, nutrition manager Maria Natoli is acutely aware of the trans fat issue. "Put simply we have a set criteria to comply with in relation to trans fats," Mrs. Natoli said.
"At TLC we use vegetable oils which are liquid at room temperature. Those that have gone through the hydrogenation process are solid at room temperature, and these oils are not used in the meals we produce at the factory". "We only use blended edible vegetable oil and if a product contains some other oil, then, as per manufacturer's specifications, we list the oil used for that product."
"Any meal subject to laboratory testing is always checked to make sure it does not include partially hydrogenated fat. Commercial pastry, for instance, has traces of Trans Fat so those dinners which have an inclusion of pastry are not submitted for testing."
Maria Natoli and fellow staff member Helen Young visit the Marrickville factory every fortnight as part of the quality control program for TLC meals. "Quality control also includes product sampling from five or six different sources. That way we can a variety of feedback. We are highly critical of ourselves, and this I feel, gives TLC the high standard which I am sure our clients appreciate," added Mrs. Natoli.
For more information on nutrition see Catherine Saxelby?s Foodwatch website: www.foodwatch.com.au.
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