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The New York Times
Feb. 5, 2006
Travel Notes

The Room Service May Be Great, but What About Those Trans Fats?

To the growing list of menu adjustments hotels are making to satisfy diet-conscious guests add: food free of trans fats.

Last May, the Halekulani hotel in Honolulu eliminated trans fatty acids, which raises bad cholesterol, from all of its menu items. Trans fat is generally found in foods like French fries and cookies, made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien in New York started using trans-fat-free oil about four months ago to cook its fries. In October, Michael's Cookies, a cookie-dough maker that supplies ready-to-bake cookies to many Hyatt and Marriott kitchens, went trans-fat free, too.

The changes come as awareness of fat seems ever growing. In January, a new law required food manufacturers to list on food labels how much trans fat their products contain. But for the hospitality industry, the zero-trans-fat approach is just another dietary fad playing out at hotels, from organic-only produce to vegan options like the bento box lunch in Soleil at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Fla.

Loews Hotels introduced low-carb entrees about five years ago. The chain has since added a menu of cocktails low in carbohydrates, including "The Green TeaNO" (left), a martini featuring green tea that has only 2.5 grams of carbs.

Trans-fat-free food doesn't necessarily mean it's lower in calories, however, since it can include butter or corn oil. And even foods labeled trans-fat free usually contain a small, allowable amount.

Trans fats also extend the shelf life of food. The Halekulani's signature chocolates used to last two to three months. Now, without trans fats, they must be eaten within 10 to 14 days.

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