Starbucks Removes Trans Fats, What?

Starbucks baked goods will no longer contain trans fats, at least in Chicago and other major cities, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. The restaurant flatly denies the switch is in response to New York City’s recent trans fat ban. Starbucks operates about 200 stores in New York City, according to the Starbucks store locater.
“We started the process of reformulating recipes two years ago,” [a spokesperson for Starbucks] says. “We try to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve on things.”
Last year, the company introduced trans fat-free cranberry bliss bars nationwide “but we didn’t let people know that.”

In other news, Starbucks baked crap has trans fats? That stuff is in everything!

“Starting in September, other seasonal items sold nationwide such as pumpkin cream cheese muffins and gingerbread loaves have been free of trans fats. And each week since mid-December, Starbucks has been quietly swapping out other items containing trans fat in Chicago and other cities.” —MEGHANN MARCO

Starbucks cuts trans fats [Crain's Chicago Business]

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  1. formergr says:

    As far as I know, vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco) is loaded in trans fats. Shortening is a really important ingredient in a lot of baking recipes, and it’s not always easy (though definitely possible) to substitute butter with good results.

    It should be noted though that Crisco either already has, or is in the process of, developing a trans-fat free formula. Not sure how that will work exactly since I thought hydrogenation (required for making an oil solid at room temperature) is what makes trans fats…

  2. CookiesEtc says:

    Yes, most baked items have fats in them (shortening, butter, vegetable oil, etc). Trans fats, being cheap, get used a lot. It’s also a reason ‘natural flavoring’ is used. Oh, and I believe margarine also has trans fats so if you got suckered into the margarine is healthier than butter thing, ha ha, wrong!

    Reformulating recipes means they spent a lot of time trying to find another cheap alternative to butter (probably) which required other flavor additives to maintain the flavor profile so many tastings and focus groups were needed.

  3. Kornkob says:

    Gobs of stuff has trans fats in it. Who here is old enough to remember when margerine was relatively new and was touted as ‘better for you than butter’?

    Several companies have pretty much built a business model on the manipulation of trans fats. Is there anything other than trans fats in a Twinkie?

  4. kerry says:

    Most hydrogenated oil products will be loaded with trans fats, as they are a product of saturating a formerly unsaturated oil. For future reference, clear oils = unsaturated = few or no trans fats. Oils that are solid at room temperature = saturated fats and probably trans fats. Stuff that wasn’t saturated at it’s origin (like margarine and vegetable shortening) will be higher in trans fats while naturally-saturated oils (like palm oil) will have fewer trans fats.
    All this stuff just furthers my opinion that the less processed the food, the better it is for you.

  5. Ozyman666 says:

    Crisco does have a non-trans fat product – http://www.crisco.com/about/0_grams.asp

  6. AcilletaM says:

    The other thing in Twinkies? Preservatives.

    Hostess. A company hit hard by most of the health/nutrition/diet food trends in the last 10 years. That creamy filling is as likely to be made with some kind of vegetable oil as with Bessie, the friendly milk cow who just couldn’t produce the required milk quota per day. Whatever was cheapest when they were buying. Yum.

  7. Hoss says:

    According to the Starbucks site, it’s mostly the cookies that have trans-fats. The scones and croissants don’t have it. But then again, you need to type in a zip code and location to see nutritional info, so maybe the recipes vary

  8. bluegus32 says:

    Someone do me a favor and compile a list of things currently considered bad. I can’t keep track anymore. What’s the over-under on eggs? Are they good for you again or not? What about milk?

    I swear, my life is complicated enough that I cannot possibly fathom enough energy to worry about trans-fats. I resolve this year to stick with the basics. I will not (1) smoke or (2) run with scissors.

    All right, maybe I’ll run with scissors. But not while running downhill greased up in trans-fats.

  9. raindog says:

    I know people must have used something other than butter to make pie crusts before Crisco came along, but what? Lard? Maybe I ought to try that in my own crusts.

    That trans-fat-free Crisco has been out for a year or two already…. they knew which way the wind was blowing. Looks to me like they just substituted palm oil for the partially hydrogenated stuff, and then added other non-hydrogenated oils to soften it up.

    The return to palm oil is hilarious to me, because I remember about 15 years ago when there was this huge scare about palm and coconut oils and how dangerous for your arteries it was to get popcorn at the theater because that’s what the yellow floor wax was made out of. But as long as there’s no trans fats, I guess doubling your saturated fat intake is A-OK….

  10. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    what about lard? Someone gave me a cookie cookbook from the 60s (I think) and every recipe called for lard.

    delicious lard.

  11. kerry says:

    Lard is probably not as loaded with trans fats as crisco or margarine, as it was pretty much saturated from the start.
    As for pie crusts, lard is the gold standard for crumbly, tasty awesomeness, and was used more commonly than butter in the past. (Butter’s expensive, lard is cheap.)
    When you cook bacon, strain the grease into a clean jar and store it in the fridge. When you’ve got enough you can use it to make a super-yummy pie crust. Or home fries. Mmmmmm . . . home fries.
    Oh, brief lard-related aside: my manager grew up on a farm and her father’s favorite breakfast food was toast slathered in the leftover bacon fat mixed with the used coffee grounds. Kickass!

  12. AcilletaM says:

    Kerry, your manager is describing a variation of red-eye gravy, of which Elvis was fond.

  13. etinterrapax says:

    Yes. Lard pie crusts are delicious. I haven’t checked into it, but I’m guessing that they’re low in or without trans fats. Lard doesn’t have to be hydrogenated to be solid at room temperature. That’s what makes Crisco and margarine bad for you. Using those ingredients in baked goods is not only cheaper, but it improves shelf life and texture at the end of shelf life. That’s probably one reason it’s used so widely in restaurant settings, where they can’t guarantee they’ll sell all of their baked goods on a certain day.

    I’m glad Starbucks is finding another way, but I won’t really believe they’re going to butter and/or lard unless they say so. That’d make sense, be healthier, and be tastier. Since when do restaurants embrace that sort of logic.

  14. jacques says:

    You’ll find most store-bought pie crusts (other than graham cracker ones) are made with lard. If any major food provider switched to lard, they’d better be careful not to pull a McDonalds – e.g. “We never claimed that our Cranberry Bliss bars were vegetarian” and deal with the lawsuits

  15. Jesse in Japan says:

    Oh, come on! There is no way there are only 200 Starbucks locations in New York City.

  16. acambras says:

    Lard is a big part of the reason Mexican food is so damn tasty. I’ve told vegetarians that even if they only ate beans, rice, and tortillas in Mexico, it would all be full of lard (“manteca” in Spanish, if you care).

    And yes, all the really good piecrusts are made with lard, too.

    Mmmm — kinda making me hungry.

  17. fencepost says:

    Trans fats have been used a lot in baking in part because they retain their shape over a wider temperature range. Cookies made with all butter will spread rapidly on a cookie sheet, while cookies made with a mixture of butter and Crisco or with all Crisco will stay thicker.

  18. Mr. Gunn says:

    The fark thread about this, posted under the headline “Starbucks wants their customer to healthier eating more do…” is really quite funny. 225 comments, all but about 3 making fun of the headline.

  19. “Starbucks baked crap has trans fats? That stuff is in everything!”

    Fat comes in basically two formats — solid at room temperature and liquid at room temperature. The ones that are liquid at room temperature spoil much faster (even after cooking); the ones that are solid at room temperature are far more difficult to work with (for baking and the like. Very easy for stir-frying!).

    Tranfats are basically fats that are solid but spreadably soft at room temperature. And if you’ve ever tried to make a real pie crust from scratch with real fat, it’s a total hassle doing it on a refrigerated rolling surface with a refrigerated rolling pin so your dough doesn’t fall apart by rising to room temperature.

    Almost EVERY commercial food has transfat in it because then it can sit on a shelf for a week or six without going bad (depending, of course, on packaging and other ingredients).

    There’s all kinds of chemical explanations that go with this that I don’t really understand, but basically in terms of cooking, transfat lets food keep forever (unlike liquid fats) and is easier to work with than solid fats.

    That’s why your Oreos and snack chips now taste like crap, because they’re going stale so fast sitting on the shelves of the supermarket without transfat in them.

  20. isadora says:

    Actually, I emailed Starbucks about this issue about a year ago–I told them I was against trans fats and would avoid their baked goods as my Friday Bad Breakfast choice until they stopped using the trans fats in the treats (because it’s the only fat that’s created in a lab and I’d like to get my bad fats the old-fashioned way). That, and most of the ‘bucks treats suck ass.

    They told me they had a two-year plan to phase out all the trans fat, thanks to customers like me. I love being a demanding consumer!

  21. Nygdan says:

    the advantage of trans-fats is that they stay solid. They stay solid because the molecules are relatively straight and strandlike, and thus can pack densely, tightly, and solidly together. Thats why they’ve come to be in everything, because they are more solid. People tend to think that they make food taste better, they don’t. They are industrially produced chemicals that tend to stay solid.

    So, their loss is nothing to cry over.

    Lard, which apparently is specifically pork fat, will stay solid for a long time. I was in England for a short time, and surprised to see that they kept blocks of lard, in a covered butter tray, in their CABINETS. Not the fridge, the cabinets. It stays solid even like that.

    We’re probably better off going back to lard and butter, and just eating sensible amounts of it, rather than making crazy chemicals like trans-fats and gorging on it.

  22. Nygdan says:

    Here’s an odd follow up, the table at this page
    http://www.people.umass.edu/ktheis/tfa.htm

    shows that in 1910, an american would eat 37 pounds of the various fats, in a year. Jump to 2000, 84 pounds of fat in a year. The bulk split between shortening and things like canola oil (which have lots of trans-fats).

    Kinda crazy to think that people were better off back in the days when they ate 18 pounds of butter and nearly 10 pounds of lard a year than than today when they eat around 1/5th as much of each.