How Marriott and McDonald's Dumped Trans Fats
The switch to oils that are trans fat free hasn't been easy for many restaurants and manufacturers. Since 1998, Marriott has been phasing in products that are trans fat free, such as artisanal breads, salad dressing, pancake and waffle mixes, muffins, croissants, and cookies.
But the hardest food to get right was french fries. "Two years ago, we did oil and fries flavor profiles, and they were so off that we couldn't even consider doing a switch," says Brad Nelson, Marriott's corporate chef, who estimates that Marriott serves more than 6 million pounds of french fries each year. "The fries wouldn't hold their crispness and had an off flavor."
But over the past several years, the science of producing trans-fat-free oils has been improved, allowing more businesses to consider offering products that taste the same as the original. McDonald's says the only thing now limiting its ability to achieve broader distribution of its new oil is the availability of supplya need that many cooking oil companies are rushing to fill.
"When the marketplace raises an issue to the level that this has been raised, it pushes the people supplying," says Nelson. Marriott will purchase oil from Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, both major players. "It takes time for these things to come to market," says Mark Matlock, senior vice president of research at ADM, about the development of cooking oils that are trans fat free. "We've been working on this for quite some time."