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Ohio State dining ‘trans fat free’

Jennifer Jung / Lantern photographer

As health awareness continues to rise, some cities nationwide are starting to regulate trans fatty acids in foods. However, at Ohio State, University Residences and Dining Services has been working on that for years.
“We have been trans fat free for some time,” said Zia Ahmed, the senior director of Dining Services.
Campus food at OSU has been free of trans fat for the last five years, Ahmed said.
In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that the amount of trans fats in products would be labeled in the nutrition facts. However, some products that contain trans fats are not labeled, Ahmed said.
Because products containing less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving would have less impact on public health, they aren’t always labeled, according to the FDA’s website.
“Anyone who claims something is trans fat free, it’s probably not accurate,” Ahmed said.
OSU isn’t completely trans fat free. Some products do contain it, but Ahmed said they are available mostly for convenience.
One particular item Ahmed said contains trans fats are Ballreich’s potato chips.
The university has worked with the Tiffin, Ohio-based company to make its product trans fat free, he said, so the university can continue to support the Ohio business.
Ballreich representatives declined to comment.
A roughly 2.75 ounce bag of Ballreich’s chips contains two grams of trans fats per one-ounce serving, according to the nutrition label.
Some students believe the university provides students with quality and nutritional food.
“Overall, I think they have a good variety,” said Katie Oda, a third-year in human nutrition.
Oda said it’s important that university food is trans fat free and that students should be mindful of their diets.
“I think (students) should be more aware of (trans fats) but not stress over it,” she said.
However, some students think there’s a need for improvement for the university’s food operations.
“There’s not a lot of healthy options,” said Bryan Zorko, a fourth-year medical student. The food on campus is generally more expensive, including the healthy options such as salads and fruits, he said.
In 2008, New York City became the first large city in the nation to restrict the amount of trans fats served in foods at restaurants. Since the restrictions were put in place, residents’ heart health has improved according to a study that was recently published in the journal “Annals of Internal Medicine.”
Trans fats and saturated fatty acids, also known as saturated fats, can increase the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease by increasing cholesterol levels in the body, according to the study. Trans fats are slightly more harmful than saturated fats.
Columbus does not have restrictions on trans fats served in local restaurants. However, last year, Cleveland banned foods that contained trans fats from being used in preparation at restaurants unless the food is provided directly to customers in a sealed package, according to information from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s office.
In the same year, the Ohio legislature restricted local governments from regulating food and dining operations based on nutrition. That law was overruled last summer, after Cleveland City Council filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio.

 

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