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Junk Food As We Know It May Never Be the Same

Last Thursday, Nov. 7, was a disastrous day for all cupcake and junk food enthusiasts. November of 2013 may, from now on, be remembered as the fall of all things delicious: donuts, microwavable popcorn, pie crust and frosting included.

No trans fats here! Image via Mr. Miyagi/Flickr.

No trans fats here!
Image via Mr. Miyagi/Flickr.

The FDA has decided to make America healthier by attempting to ban all artificial trans fats. What does this mean exactly? Their proposal is an attempt to basically ban everything you actually wish you could be eating. While not in effect yet, the measure would substantially alter the composition of many junk foods.

According to research, banning trans fats could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease. You would think Americans would revolt against this proposal, no? Guess again. The FDA’s proposal has actually seen very little opposition. The FDA faced much more scrutiny after their controversial proposals that attempted to ban things like cigarettes and other tobacco products.

While most BC students appear to be interested in healthy living, they might not be so keen on a world without donuts. Even Boston’s favorite Dunkin Donuts may have to change their donut recipes and practices. Without their beloved donuts, the chain would just be a whole lot of bagels dunked in a cup of coffee.

You may need to rethink those movie-night snacks. Image via cyclonebill/Wikimedia Commons.

You may need to rethink those movie-night snacks.
Image via cyclonebill/Wikimedia Commons.

Watching TV and movies is one of the best things to ever grace weekend leisure, especially on a college campus. But what about the popcorn? Many microwaveable popcorn products do, in fact, contain illicit trans fats. So much for stuffing your face with buttery goodness while watching Frodo and Sam make out in front of your face.

BC students who are aware of the change did not seem particularly enthusiastic about the FDA proposal. “Let the people eat,” said Andrew Thomas, CSOM ’16.

So what are trans fats exactly? Essentially, trans fats are partially hydrogentated oil. “Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to make solid fats, like shortening and margarine,” according to a CNN Health report. “It increases the shelf life and the flavor of foods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, or shortening, was used in American kitchens as early as 1911.”

McDonalds fries may be just as good as ever. Image via Ivantuu/Wikimedia Commons.

McDonalds fries may be just as good as ever.
Image via Ivantuu/Wikimedia Commons.

The fact of the matter is that trans fats actually do not make donuts taste like donuts. McDonald’s, for example, stopped frying their french fries in trans fats about a decade ago, with little resulting change in taste. People will still be able to enjoy donuts in 2020 just as they are enjoyed today, the only difference being that they will not contain any trans fats. In other words, it may become easier to convince yourself that donuts are not bad for you at all.

Trans fats are slowly becoming a thing of the past, but that won’t stop people from finding ways around its restraints despite evidence that trans fats are not all that important to our taste buds anyway.

"Not only is artificial trans fat not safe, it's not remotely necessary,” says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Many companies, large and small, have switched to healthier oils over the past decade. I hope that those restaurants and food manufacturers that still use this harmful ingredient see the writing on the wall and promptly replace it."

Featured image via Hao dream-case/Wikimedia Commons.

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