Look what’s cooking: A better food oil
Food information is spread throughout the paper, as with other topics that involve public policy, health, business, science and even ads. Have students work up an appetite by finding at least two examples of recent food-related coverage or nutrition information from advertisers.
Nutrition is about choices, not what's "right" and "wrong." Using the fresh examples they just found, or the trans fat issue, ask class members how they evaluate different viewpoints presented. See if they can identify ways that journalists help readers understand unfamiliar details.
Reporters and headline writers sometimes add a playful touch to coverage of food and other lifestyle subjects with colorful words, puns or ad slogan references. Challenge pupils to spot a lighthearted approach anywhere in the newspaper.
Restaurant chefs, packaged food makers and health officials are helping us eat more healthfully, without missing crispy, crunchy, tasty treats such as fries and chips. Even fast food chains are joining a trend toward reducing or eliminating a saturated fat called trans fatty acid -- or trans fat. Cooking oils with trans fat pose a major risk of high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes, nutrition experts say.
A federal agency now requires labels on packaged food to list trans fat content, which nudged many companies to drop the ingredient from frozen dinners, crackers, cookies and other items. Proposals in New York, Chicago and other cities would ban restaurants from using such oils.
Two weeks ago, Kentucky Fried Chicken announced that it will deep-fry most menu choices without trans fat. Soybean oil is used as a more-healthful alternative in "finger lickin' good" items. Wendy's last summer began cooking French fries and breaded chicken with oil free of trans fat. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell plan a similar shift, adding pressure on McDonald’s, Burger King and other chains to get with the program.
Expert says: “Trans fat has become box-office poison in the food world. It is the guest you really want to leave." -- Keith Ayoob, nutrition specialist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
Labeling rule: Food makers must list trans fats on products with 0.5 grams or more of the unhealthy oil. That Food and Drug Administration requirement began this year.
Eat wisely: Read nutrition labels to pick products with lower saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Choose foods that are as fresh and as close to natural as possible -– such as an apple, not a deep-fried apple pie from a fast-foot place.
Front Page Talking Points Archive