- [early] in the decade, scientific evidence emerged suggesting that the trans fats produced by hydrogenation affected foetal and infant growth. Then in 1993 Professor Walter Willett, the principal investigator in the Harvard nurses study – on which much of the current advice for heart disease and cancer is based – published evidence that nurses in the study who ate significant amounts of trans fats were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who consumed few trans fats. In 1997 he called hydrogenation "the biggest food processing disaster in US history". In 2004 he told an interviewer that the advice to switch from butter to vegetable oils hydrogenated into margarine had turned out to be "a disastrous mistake".
- "As a responsible manufacturer we can only go with the evidence at the time. When Walter Willett's evidence in 1993 indicated that trans fatty acids were as bad as saturated fats we felt that the weight of evidence had moved and we set about removing them. It took about two years."
- City analysts JP Morgan point out a further powerful commercial reason in their report on how the food industry is responding to the obesity crisis. According to their estimates, Flora pro.activ fat spread sells at a premium of more than 300% on standard products.
For me I can't help thinking shouldn't it be incumbent upon manufacturers to prove that their product is safe? Hey, come to think of it, and given their strategy of making us scared of saturated fat, shouldn't it be incumbent upon them to actually back up this satfat phobia with some evidence?
Thankfully, Ron Krauss has done the job for them and guess what? There isn't any evidence that saturated fat is actually harmful. (This is also a fact that escapes Lawrence but I have found an email address for her, and will be sending her this link !)
In fact with all the research and brainpower at their disposal, why haven't Unilever done their own meta analysis and discovered this for themselves? At the least, you'd think they would be looking in to this (or in to The French Paradox).
Kind of makes you wonder what the point was of inventing margarine.....oh that's right, we get to blame French. You see according to Lawrence, French scientists developed margarine "[in] response to a call from the French government to invent a cheap, long-life butter substitute that could feed its armies on the march".
Jokes about French military prowess aside (I am not Franco-phobic - I am English with French lineage which, according to Ricky Gervais, means 'I have bad-breath and I'm shit in bed'), it is ironic that the nation that gave us 'The French Paradox' should also have given us such a substance.
Lawrence also has a book out called 'Eat Your Heart Out' which has just made it on to my reading list on the strength of this article alone. The Amazon reviews are quite compelling:
- I can't remember when a book made me more angry. Lawrence's book should be compulsory reading . . . nothing is what it says on the packet (Evening Standard )
- Challenges each and every one of us to think again about what we eat. It's almost like uncovering a secret state within the state (Start the Week )