Holiday Travelers Beware: Trans Fats Lurk

Is Serving Trans Fats Antithetical to CSR?
Dec 15, 2010 9:30 AM ET
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ElegRoo Blog

Southwest Airline’s recycles soda cans and newspapers. Elegant Roots sells recycled-silver jewelry. Are those forms of corporate social responsibility?

What about Southwest’s serving trans fats? Where does that stack up for a company's CSR?
I flew on Monday from Chicago to Oakland on Southwest with a stop in Albuquerque -- no plane change. That took about six hours. I missed lunch.

On the first leg -- Chicago to Albuquerque -- one flight attendant joked that the “offerings for lunch” were “Plane Crackers” and dry roasted peanuts. I gladly accepted both bags. I checked the nutrition facts of the Plane Crackers – not too much sodium and no cholesterol. Not too bad. I’m serious about what I eat – no meat; no cheese; no cholesterol. And I’m strict about it.

The Plane Crackers seemed like lightly sweetened soda crackers shaped like little airplanes. Hence the name. But they are also bland. Plain Plane Crackers. You know -- Southwest humor. LOL.

On the second leg to Oakland --still hungry -- the Southwest staff offered the same joke about lunch offerings. I took the Plane Crackers again but this time I happened to glance at the ingredients list before I opened the bag, something I had neglected the first time.

Trans fats! Right there on the label was “Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.” When the flight attendant came by again, I gave the bag back. “This has trans fats in it," I said, "you should report it.” He smiled in that everything-is-sunshine way Southwest flight attendants have, and said, “Some people love those trans fats.” LOL.

I didn’t respond. I didn’t say a word as the people around me did what I had done on the first leg – ignorantly popped those little poisonous planes into their mouths.

Trans fats both lower your HDL (good cholesterol) and raise your LDL (bad cholesterol). The double whammy. The National Academy of Science “has concluded there is no safe level of trans fat consumption... any incremental increase in trans fat intake increases the risk of coronary heart disease.” (Wikipedia). This ain't news.

Okay, Southwest, burnish your good-corporate-citizen status. STOP SERVING TRANS FATS!

And to those traveling on Southwest over the holidays: BEWARE. READ THE LABELS. Don’t assume, even in these days of ample information about trans fats, that any company, Southwest or Kraft, will refrain from poisoning you with  “food-like substances” (to borrow a term from Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food) in order to save a few pennies.

Happy trails. Happy holidays from ElegRoo.