The zero trans fat cooking oil contest


QUESTION: The frozen French fries that we purchase through our foodservice distributor are par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil. Can we obtain French fries that are par-fried in zero trans fat oils?

ANSWER: If you use French fries or another food item that have already been par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil before they reach the restaurant, you are defeating the purpose of using a zero trans fat oil. Also the par-fry oil will eventually mix with the oil in the restaurant fryer and get into the food, meaning that you may run afoul of a trans fat labeling or ban regulation.

You need to purchase French fries or other food items that have not been par-fried in partially hydrogenated oil. The major French fry suppliers and other companies supply French fries that are par-fried in zero trans fat oils.

Click here to read about how to select the best zero trans fat French fries.

Click here for a list of zero trans fat potato product suppliers and descriptions of their products.


QUESTION: What is the best way for a restaurant to determine when the end of the fry life of a zero trans fat oil has been reached?

ANSWER: Unquestionably the taste, odor and texture of the product.

The color of the oil is not a good indicator. Many oils darken quickly, but they perform perfectly well regardless of the color. Click here for more information about oil color and fry life.

Using 3M strips to determine free fatty acids is a rough indicator used by many restaurants but not reliable.

Some restaurants use digital measuring probes such as an Ebro oil monitor or a Testo 265 that they dip in the oil. Such devices indicate the Total Polar Materials (TPM) in the oil which is the most reliable indicator. However, most oils develop off-flavors and off-odors long before the accepted 24% TPM limit is reached.


QUESTION: The food used in the contest was French fries. Why?

ANSWER: French fries represent the overwhelming majority of deep fried food in restaurants. Other commonly fried foods include chicken and fish. Due to their uniformity, French fries are used to test the comparative performance of the oils. Comparison of frying performance with chicken products is complicated by the quantity and composition of various batter formulations. Fry testing with fish is also more complex due to the presence of fish oil. French fries produce fully valid and reliable data for other foods such as chicken and fish.


QUESTION: Will we achieve the same fry life from oil in our restaurants as Texas A&M achieved in the oil contest?

ANSWER: Possibly. However, the contest is intended to show the comparative differences in the oils when used in an identical way.


QUESTION: Is there a shortage in the supply of zero trans fat oils for restaurants?

ANSWER: Absolutely not. We know of no restaurant operation that has had any difficulty obtaining zero trans fat oils. The supply is plentiful and more than sufficient.







Texas A&M has completed the testing of ten oils in the zero trans fat cooking oil contest. The results are posted on the List of Oils & Results page.

Contest Pictures

Click on the image below to see pictures of the oil contest.