October 31, 2014

Standish Hospital makes MHA Honor Roll for eliminating trans fats

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STANDISH — As part of a statewide campaign through the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital recently eliminated trans fats from its food services and made the MHA’s Elimination of Trans Fats Honor Roll for its successful participation in the program.

The MHA urged hospitals in the state to voluntarily eliminate trans fats by Jan. 1, 2010, and the Standish Hospital had completely transitioned its food program by the end of December, officially making the Honor Roll on Dec. 21, said Krystal Thelen, registered dietician at Standish Hospital.

Thelen said that the whole idea behind the initiative was to get back to basics, and she hopes that people will begin to follow the hospital’s lead in their own homes.

“We need to be an example for all our community,” Thelen said.

The entire transition took about six to nine months. The first step included a full analysis of the current foods the hospital offered before eliminating trans fats, Thelen said.

Thelen said the hospital worked alongside their food provider, Gordon Food Services, which was able to give them a detailed list of the ingredients in their products.

Thelen said that anything with partially hydrogenated oil would contain some trans fats, so one of the earlier steps the hospital took was to use trans fat free oils for cooking.

Another step the hospital took was turning to homemaking certain foods in order to eliminate processed meals. For instance, instead of buying a prepackaged, pre-made turkey casserole, they will cook the turkey, stuffing, and other parts of the meal separately before combining them, Thelen said.

The final step in the process involved a change in the food offered in vending machines. Thelen said many food companies have already started to change ingredients in their products, like changing to baked potato chips, so the transition was not too difficult.

The financial cost of the change was also not a big issue. Management was very supportive of the initiative and understood the importance of following through with MHA’s campaign, Thelen said.

This change is not the last step for the hospital as it continues to improve its food program. They hope to introduce more fresh fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on buying food that is locally grown and produced, Thelen said.

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