Royal Caribbean Bans Trans Fat From Cruise Menus

January 3, 2007

Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to join in the war against trans fat. According to an announcement today, the line will remove trans fat oils from its recipes beginning on March 1; the goal is to offer food onboard that is fully free of the noxious fat by the end of 2007.

Michael Bayley, the line's "Total Guest Satisfaction" honcho, notes that the change is due to the fact that "vegetable oils that have undergone hydrogenation result in a type of fat that doctors have linked to serious health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels. If we can offer guests a healthier serving of the foods they love by switching to trans-fat-free oils, while maintaining the same level of satisfaction, why wouldn't we make the switch?"

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil -- a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods containing these fats.

"Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils," the F.D.A.'s Web site reports. "Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods."

While Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to ban this type of fat, other culinary efforts -- from legislation requiring restaurants in the city of New York to eradicate it from menus to Starbucks' own voluntary efforts to cleanse its products -- have been making headlines.

Royal Caribbean tested the effort on food served last fall on Navigator of the Seas. Says Bayley, "we've seen a shift in the lifestyle choices of Royal Caribbean guests. Our guests are more active, health-conscious cruisers."

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor