Some nutritionists ("The hidden hazards of trans-fat bans," Globe & Mail, January 3, 2008, L1) are concerned trans-fat bans in cities such as Calgary, which is first off the mark in Canada, will lead to other nutritional problems if restaurants replace the trans fats with a lot saturated fats. I understand that concern. However, let's get rid of trans fats, first, then worry about the ripple effect. They've been doing damage for far too long.

Some of the earliest stories I wrote at the University of Guelph when I arrived 21 years ago were about the research program of nutritional scientist Dr. Bruce Holub, a pioneer in trans-fat research. "They're terrible," he told me. "They raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol." I didn't even know we had good cholesterol. Anyway, he told me to tell readers and listeners at all costs to avoid trans-fat laden doughnuts and French fries, and now, he's proven to be so right. The trans-fats story was complicated to tell because they're hidden, and because trans fats are so pervasive, it was tough to imagine a world without them. But Bruce envisioned it, and finally, for the sake of Canadians and others, that vision is becoming a reality. 

NEWSBLAST, a free weekly Canadian food service and hospitality industry e-newsletter (, today published the trans-fat content of certain restaurant foods, as issued by Health Canada. And what two foodstuffs did they cite as examples? French fries, and chocolate doughnuts, further underlining Bruce's disdain.

It turns out wide discrepancies exist between manufacturers, though. When the list was first published, Burger King was rightly made out to be the main offender. Others that are less offensive didn't get much exposure at all.

Here's the list. As NEWSBLAST reports, bold numbers indicate the percentages of trans fats in the products, and in brackets, the amount of saturated fats relative to the total fat content. FYI, the recommended foodservice trans fat level is less than five per cent. All figures are from Health Canada.

French Fries
Burger King: 43.8 (22.6)
A&W: 34.9 (17.2)
Arby's: 30.2 (11.3)
Mandarin: 7.5 (10.4)
Wendy's: 6.8 (14.7)
McDonald's: 4.2 (26.0)
Montana's: 2.9 (9.4)
Pizza Pizza: 2.3 (17.9)
Mrs. Vanelli's: 2.0 (17.1)
Taco Bell: 1.8 (8.0)
KFC: 1.7 (8.0)
Kelsey's: 1.3 (9.1)
Swiss Chalet: 0.9 (9.4)
New York Fries: 0.9 (8.1)
Boston Pizza: 0.2 (6.1)

Chocolate doughnuts
Dunkin' Donuts: 40.1 (23.2)
Robin's Donuts: 37.1 (21.0)
Krispy Kreme: 29.1 (26.7)
Coffee Time: 26.1 (23.3)
Tim Hortons: 1.4 (47.3)
Country Style: 0.6 (51.4)