- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

Sodexho USA, a Gaithersburg food and management services company, said yesterday it will switch to serving foods cooked in transfat-free oils by November.

Transfatty acids are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Transfat, which is produced by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, accounts for the bulk of the public’s total fat intake, according to the most recent government dietary report. It advised consumers to eat as little transfat as possible.

“As more information becomes available on the risk posed by transfatty acids, Sodexho felt we owed it to our customers to find a way to serve them more responsibly by using healthier alternatives in our food offerings,” said Deborah Hecker, strategic planning vice president.

The company, a subsidiary of the global food and management services giant Sodexho Alliance, plans to supply transfat-free shortenings and oils, margarine and spreads, pan and grill oils, and salad oils to more than 5,000 of its clients.

Those customers include public schools, college campuses, military bases, retirement communities, health care facilities and other businesses.

While most of the client sites are expected to have transfat-free oils in 30 to 60 days, service will likely be slower for the company’s 26 clients in the Gulf Coast, which were hit by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week. Sodexho also has two offices in the region.

The company, which has not been targeted for any obesity-related lawsuit, plans to eventually provide transfat-free cereals, yogurts and soups to its clients.

New local research center

SNBL Clinical Pharmacology Center Inc., a Baltimore subsidiary of Japan’s largest clinical research organization, next month will open a research facility at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus.

The more than $20 million facility will be start operations Oct. 18 and be used to conduct mostly Phase One clinical trials for new drugs and medical devices that must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The center will conduct the trials for unidentified pharmaceutical clients, said SNBL Clinical President and Chief Operating Officer Takeshi Yamakawa.

“We are getting very good resources from the University of Maryland in terms of their knowledge, skill, equipment and patient populations,” Mr. Yamakawa said.

SNBL will run the center while the university’s faculty will serve as consultants.

The university’s Baltimore campus, which specializes in Phase Two and Three clinical trials, hopes to pick up pharmaceutical customers from SNBL Clinical, said Jim Hughes, research and development vice president.

The research facility will be the largest private tenant in the first building at the university’s Biopark area. SNBL Clinical plans to test all types of drugs, including those that treat cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, urinary and skin conditions.

SNBL Clinical, which is owned by Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories Ltd. in Tokyo, started its operations last October. The company, with 10 employees, plans to triple its work force, Mr. Yamakawa said.

The “Health Care” column runs every Friday. Call Marguerite Higgins at 202/636-4892 or e-mail her at [email protected]

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