Mensa trans-fat free

Recipes for many desserts, such as cookies, have been revised to use butter instead of margarine. — Ta'Mone Williams/TRUMPET
Recipes for many desserts, such as cookies, have been revised to use butter instead of margarine. — Ta’Mone Williams/TRUMPET

Dining services has made some subtle, but serious changes in their kitchens. All homemade dishes from the college’s kitchen no longer contain any trans-fats.

Margaret Empie, Dining and Retail Services assistant vice president, said several years ago dining services made the decision to eliminate trans-fats from their recipes in an effort to avoid the various health risks associated with the ingredient.

“What we’ve done is gone through our recipes one by one and looked at the items we were buying from our suppliers,” Empie said. “We purchase over $100,000 of food each month, sometimes five hundred to six hundred cases of food twice a week.”

According to the American Heart Association, trans-fats raise bad cholesterol levels while lowering good cholesterol levels. Eating trans-fats increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The fat is also tied to a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“Since heart disease is the leading killer among men and women, eliminating trans-fats from the diet is a good choice,” said Beth Green, assistant director of personal training and massage therapy at “The W.”  “Examples are margarine, prepared desserts, frozen pizzas and boxed cookies.”

Green said, ingesting trans-fats on a regular basis can create health problems in the future for students.

“Even though you are young now and possibly more active, as life goes on, you might not be as active when you are older. Some people are already at risk due to hereditary genes for high cholesterol,” Green said.

“They may not consider that now, by eating tons of baked goods, some fried foods and margarines, could affect their levels in the future and their weight.” The Mensa has seen the majority of the changes and with those changes comes a period of trial and error, Empie said.

“In some recipes, cookies in particular, it called for margarine rather than butter. We had to test our recipes and switch our cookies to butter, which means the cookies would be crispy if they’re cooked the same amount,” Empie said.

“And we all know that students like soft cookies.”

The relearning process was tedious, but worth the effort Empie said. Perfecting their recipes for over year, another change implemented included new fryer oil.
Empie said the only places students can consume trans-fats can be found in prepackaged food available for purchase in the Den or Konditorei.

Empie said Wartburg Dining Services is ahead of most states in the effort to eliminate to trans-fats and fully expects a law restricting trans-fats to be passed in Iowa.

“There are some states that have started requiring [the elimination of trans-fats] on menus,” Empie said. “And as that has happened and we move towards the future, it will be easier to find food sources without trans-fats.”

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