PCC Natural Markets free of artificial trans-fats

Seattle, Wash., April 3, 2007 — Consumers who want tasty foods without artificial trans-fats can find it easy to get their shopping done at PCC Natural Markets. The nation's largest natural foods cooperative has removed all products from its shelves that contain these harmful fats that are linked to several health issues.

Research from the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academies of Science, has declared that trans-fats in hydrogenated margarine and shortening — used widely in processed snacks and desserts — are associated directly with heart disease.

Trans-fats are linked to increased levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and reduced "good" cholesterol (HDL), heart attacks, increased insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and gall stones. The Institute also declares that there is no safe amount of trans-fats in the diet; in other words, zero tolerance. Since January 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food manufacturers to list the amount of trans-fats on nutrition labels.

While those labels may provide desired information in the fine print, PCC wanted to make it even easier for health-conscious consumers by eliminating all products with added trans-fats. PCC Director of Merchandising, Paul Schmidt, says PCC "put all its vendors on notice that even popular products found to contain added trans-fats will not be carried in PCC stores."

Schmidt points out that, "Manufacturers are not required to recall and re-label products immediately if ingredients change, and even foods labeled 'low' or 'reduced' fat can contain a significant amount of natural trans-fats. So, we've made our standards clear to our natural food vendors, and maintain close relationships with them to make certain they are honored."

Natural trans-fats occur in very small amounts in some foods, such as meat and butter (as a result of churning, for instance). Artificial trans-fats are created during the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogen gas is bubbled through refined oil, causing the oil molecules to become saturated artificially with hydrogen and thereby resistant to oxidation, which causes rancidity.

Hydrogenated fat is hard at room temperature, very shelf stable, and performs well in both baking and high temperature frying — all reasons it has been used for years to make standard margarines and "shortening," as well as chips, crackers, pastries and other baked goods, sauces, mixes and fried foods.

PCC's Nutrition Education Manager, Goldie Caughlan, says artificial trans-fats offer no nutritional value to the diet. "They're a bad substitute for good quality fats that the body needs to be healthy. Delicious, natural alternatives to favorite foods that contain trans-fats are readily available."

About PCC Natural Markets: Headquartered in Seattle, Wash., PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retail cooperative with annual sales of $105 million and an active membership of nearly 40,000 households. PCC operates eight stores in the Seward Park, View Ridge, Greenlake, West Seattle, Fremont, Kirkland, Redmond and Issaquah neighborhoods.

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Media contact

Diana Chapman
PCC Natural Markets

206-547-1222, ext. 106
206-390-6657 (cell)

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