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Goodbye, trans fats at Starbucks January 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Drinks News.

Starbucks is introducing a menu with trans fat-free food at about half its U.S. cafes today, and the rest will slowly follow suit. Starting today, you can feel a little less guilt about eating that cookie

Downing that lemon loaf or chocolate peanut butter oat bar with a Starbucks double latte won’t help your diet, but those goodies at least will have less unhealthy fat. Beginning today, Starbucks Corp. is eliminating trans-fatty acids from items at roughly 2,700 company-owned stores in the United States, including Seattle. The ban will apply mostly to foods and not coffees, as items with less than a half-gram of trans fat are not affected.

“We started this process two years ago,” said Brandon Borrman, a company spokesman. “We want to make sure our customers have high-quality, nutritious options. We are giving customers what they want.”

Borrman said the switch is occurring in about half of the company-owned stores, and the rest will follow as Starbucks works with regional bakeries to make the switch. Prices will not change, and licensed stores, such as those in supermarkets or bookstores, are not affected, he said.

The change at the Seattle-based coffee giant comes as restaurant chains Taco Bell Corp. and KFC have said they will eliminate trans fats. Burger King Holdings Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. also are testing healthier alternatives. Wendy’s International Inc. has cut trans fats at its U.S. stores. And Denny’s Corp. said last month that it will eliminate trans fats from menu items as early as the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, New York City last month banned trans fats in cooking oils in restaurants, effective later this year. Trans fats, listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are believed to be harmful because they increase “bad” cholesterol and decrease “good” cholesterol. New York’s decision did not play a role in Starbucks making the change, Borrman said.

Borrman said Starbucks-owned stores in Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., also would be trans-fat free. Amy Gundlach of Seattle-based Top Pot Doughnuts, which supplies doughnuts to Starbucks, said her company made the switch to making trans fat-free goods in the middle of November.

“Their change did impact us,” said Gundlach, a Top Pot manager. “But we were already looking into it for ourselves. When Starbucks came and told us they were doing it, we put more attention on it.”

However, word still had not gotten out to some employees at one Starbucks store in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood Tuesday, and one customer was even amused that Starbucks was joining a national trend.

“I guess everyone is doing it,” said Jackie Call, a retired home economics teacher from Federal Way. “But, I have to tell you the truth. I don’t worry about it. I have to weigh 110 pounds to give blood, and I’m able to stay there.”

Call said Americans should be more concerned about the quantity of food they eat. But Holly Kemery of Seattle, another customer, said the change was a “fabulous” decision. “It’s the right thing to do,” Kemery said.

At Seattle-based Tully’s Coffee Corp., a small rival of Starbucks, plans are in the works to sell all trans fat-free bakery items in the Seattle area, said Rob Martin, a Tully’s vice president. Tully’s stores in San Francisco sell trans fat-free products. “It’s following established food and beverage trends,” Martin said. “It’s what consumers are asking from retailers,” Borrman, the Starbucks spokesman, said the company already has experimented by removing the trans fat from pumpkin spice muffins and gingerbread loaves. “The national promotional items are trans-fat free already and they have proven to be popular,” Borrman said.

As of Oct. 1, Starbucks had 5,688 company-owned stores in the U.S. and 3,168 licensed stores. The company has 12,440 stores worldwide.

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