The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: 202-332-9110

Attack of the Zombie Trans Fat!

Bob Evans, White Castle, & Long John Silver’s Still Using Heart-Stopping Artificial Trans Fat, Despite Known Danger


Just when you thought that artificial trans fat was dead, it staggers
zombie-like out of the culinary graveyard: Bob Evans, White Castle,
and Long John Silver's are all still using artificial trans fat in
French fries, onion rings, hotcakes, and other foods. But this
nutritional zombie isn't out for your brains; it's after your heart.

trans fat
is such an uncommonly powerful promoter of heart disease
that it has been dropped by the largest fast-food chains; it has been
forced out of restaurants in New York City, California, and other
jurisdictions; and has been increasingly hard to find in supermarkets
since trans fat labeling went into effect in 2006. But while
McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Starbucks, and other big chains have
phased out their use of partially hydrogenated oil (the source of
artificial trans fat), America's chain-restaurant B-Listers have yet to
get the memo, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"Bob Evans, White Castle, and Long John Silver's are now the
roguish outliers among the restaurant industry," said CSPI executive
director Michael F. Jacobson. "Many Americans might have thought that
the era of artificial trans fat was over. At these chains, it lives
tragically on." The three chains, with total sales of $3 billion a
year, range between the 39th- and 51st-biggest in the country.

Trans fat promotes heart disease by raising one's LDL, or "bad"
cholesterol, which clogs arteries, while lowering one's HDL, the "good"
cholesterol that guards against heart attacks. The Institute of
Medicine recommends consuming as little trans fat as possible, while
still eating a healthy diet, and the American Heart Association advises
people to limit trans fat to no more than 2 grams per day. Since small
amounts of trans fat occur naturally in milk and beef, that doesn't
leave much room for trans fat from artificial sources, according to

At Bob Evans, the fries aren't the problem; it's the pancakes:
An order of Stacked & Stuffed Caramel Banana Pecan Hotcakes has 7
grams of trans fat; a standard order of three unadorned Bob Evans
Buttermilk Hotcakes has 9 grams. At White Castle, even Harold and Kumar
might look askance at the French fries, onion chips, and onion rings,
which have between 2 and 10 grams of trans fat per order, depending on
the product and the size, says CSPI.

CSPI said it was particularly disappointed to find that zombie
trans fat still lurks at Long John Silver's. That chain, owned by Yum!
Brands, the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, knows
better, according to the group. KFC phased trans fat out of its fried
foods in 2006, four months after CSPI
filed a lawsuit
against the chain. Taco Bell also phased out
artificial trans fat several years ago. Nevertheless, at LJS, battered
fish and shrimp has between 2.5 and 4.5 grams of trans fat; a side order
of cryptic "Crumblies" has 4 grams; and every single meal on the
chain's Dollar Stretcher menu has artificial trans fat, ranging from the
Small Golden Fries (2.5 grams) to the Two Jr. Fish and Fries (7 grams).

"The FDA has all the scientific evidence and legal authority it
needs to send partially hydrogenated oil to the chemical boneyard
quickly and permanently, but it has failed to do so," Jacobson said.
"Banning it would save thousands of lives annually."

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.