Trans Fat-Free

Removing trans fat oils from menus has become a national trend, affecting even the big boys, such as Dominos and Pizza Hut, who recently announced that they’re working toward becoming trans fat-free.

Although surveys have reported that consumers aren’t very concerned about trans fat (one recent survey estimated consumer awareness of trans fat had jumped only 5% in the last year), many companies are trying to eliminate trans fat oils before they are required to by legislature. The city of New York has already legislated a trans fat ban; officials in Chicago; Connecticut; Philadelphia; Boston; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Cleveland; Louisville, Kentucky (home to Yum Brands, owner of Pizza Hut); and Los Angeles have also passed or expressed interest in a ban.

Manny & Olga’s Pizza, Washington, D.C.
Bobby Athanasakis has grown up in the pizza business, eventually taking over for his father, Manny, in an operation that now features nine stores with three more in development. He became more conscious of trans fats when Montgomery County, Maryland, enacted a trans fat ban in January 2008, which affected an Olga’s location. But Athanasakis says the transition was relatively painless: “The county authorities brought us packets; we filled them out, and then we were issued a poster certifying that we were in compliance with the trans fat ban. They checked with our regular health inspector and found we were in compliance, so we were issued our certification.”

Ed’s Buffalo Wings & Pizza, Lancaster, PA
Ed’s is a longtime family business located two blocks from busy Drexel University. Son Ed Albarouki is now the owner-manager, with 18 years of service under his apron. He says he started asking his supplier about better, higher-quality oils two years ago, a move that preceded the city council of Philadelphia’s passage of a trans fat oil ban in 2007. “We had already been trans fat-free for about a year or so,” he recalls. “I found it almost by accident. I was talking to my supplier about ingredients; I asked, ‘What is your best flour, best cheese, best dessert ingredients, best oil?’” At his suggestion, we upgraded to trans fat-free.”

To learn more, check out the May issue.