Claxton-Hepburn cuts trans-fats from hospital food
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 9:12 am

OGDENSBURG -- Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is eliminating what it calls industrial trans fats from patient and cafeteria food.

Claxton-Hepburn’s Director of Food Services, Steve Hawes, stated, “Industrial trans fats have been widely recognized as especially unhealthy, leading directly to increased levels of bad cholesterol and reduced levels of good cholesterol while contributing to increased obesity.”

There are two types of trans fats, C-H says -- the naturally occurring type found in small amounts in dairy and meat, and the artificial kind that results when liquid oils are hardened into “partially hydrogenated” fats. Natural trans-fats are not the ones of concern, they say, especially if people usually choose low fat dairy items and lean meats. The real worry in the American diet is the artificial trans-fats, which are used extensively in fried foods, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some stick margarines.

Hawes said, “Healthcare facilities need to be the leaders in the trans-fat free drive by sending a consistent message about the negative health factors associated with trans fats.” The Medical Center’s goal was to become trans-fat free by requiring all food products to contain no more than 0.05 grams of trans-fat per serving. Claxton-Hepburn says their total inventory is now 0 grams of trans-fat per serving.

“Even though labels state ‘zero trans fats,’ one serving of the food can contain up to .05 grams of trans fats, according to the law, and still be labeled trans-fat-free,” Hawes said “The problem is that small amounts of these artery clogging fats can add up quickly, especially if you eat several servings each day of foods that contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. Also keep in mind just because something is labeled trans fat free does not necessarily mean it’s healthy.”

To reach their goal, Claxton-Hepburn food services reviewed the nutritional information of its entire food inventory and developed a list of items that needed to be replaced. They searched for replacements, and they say they were able to replace all trans-fat products while maintaining quality and taste. “Our patients, visitors and staff will not notice the difference, but their hearts will,” said Hawes.

Obesity is now estimated to account for between nine and 11 percent of total United States healthcare expenditures. The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans-fat to less than 2 grams per day, a figure that includes naturally occurring trans-fats.

For more information on the trans-fat free program at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, call 713-5058.