If you've noticed that the croissants at Starbucks taste and look different, it's because the trans fat police are serving warrants on butter. The New York Times reports:
In a twist of science, the law and what some call trans-fat hysteria, wholesale bakers are being forced to substitute processed fats like palm oil and margarine for good old-fashioned butter because of the small amounts of natural trans fat butter contains.
"We've gone back and replaced all of the nice, good butter with supposedly trans fat-free margarine," said Rick Doyle, regional manager for The Schwartz Bros. bakery, which serves 600 Starbucks in the Northwest. "The hardest one for us was the croissant. We replaced butter with palm oil. From my perspective it's not a croissant any more. It's lost all its lamination and flavor."
As the Times reports, Starbucks has asked all of the bakers who provide its pastries to eliminate any trace of trans fat by the end of the year. The change has already happened in Washington and Oregon. California bakers are reworking recipes this month to try to meet a Starbucks deadline.
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Whether natural trans fats have the same health effect is still being explored by scientists, the Times said, and some researchers believe the natural ones may actually be beneficial.
"This is an important issue because anything made with animal fats will have trans fats and make it impossible to claim trans fat-free," said Marion Nestle, nutrition professor at New York University. "Milk has trans fats, after all, and you can see what a mess this is going to cause."
What's next -- a ban on breast milk?