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Fat-free mayo works its way into summertime fare


Carole Sobel is such a fat-conscious cook that she used to mix tuna with low-fat cottage cheese instead of mayonnaise to make sandwiches.

But since Kraft General Foods introduced fat-free mayonnaise and salad dressing, Ms. Sobel has slowly been reintroducing mayo into a recipe repertoire that has been virtually fat-free the last five years.

In the world of mayo, Kraft Free is big news. Regular mayonnaise contains virtually the same amount of fat as butter, and light products have generally cut the fat only in half. But each tablespoon of Kraft Free mayonnaise contains just 12 calories, no cholesterol and just 1/2 gram of fat. In Food and Drug Administration parlance, 1/2 gram per serving means zero can appear on the label.

Summertime is mayonnaise time. When cooks turn to sandwiches for keep-the-kitchen-cool convenience. When we drag out ice chests to tote mayo-rich salads to picnics.

That's why we decided the real test of mayonnaise isn't fat content but taste. So we set up a taste test with six major brands of mayonnaise and salad dressing.

For the tasting, we mixed tuna with each of the mayonnaises and salad dressings. The differences weren't all that noticeable in tuna fish, so our panelists were free to dip raw carrots, crackers or white bread into the unadulterated products.

We figured the most popular would be Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise because of its richness. But the big winner was Weight Watchers Whipped Reduced Calorie Dressing, which has 80 percent of the calories from fat. Hellmann's has 99 percent of its calories from fat.

Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise was next in line, followed by the two new Kraft products.

Panelists all have definite ideas about mayonnaise and salad dressing and the taste test results.

Josella Newton, a food and nutrition service consultant, says that instead of eating light or no-fat mayonnaise, she's cut down on the amount she uses.

Ms. Newton was the only one of the three panelists who chose Hellmann's as her favorite based on color, texture, traditional taste and whether she'd buy it. A label reader, she'll skip the new Kraft products because they contain more salt than regular mayonnaise and salad dressing. She'll seriously consider Weight Watchers, her second favorite.

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