New York City Proposes Limiting Trans Fat In Restaurants - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


New York City Proposes Limiting Trans Fat In Restaurants

- NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's Health Department on Tuesday proposed a near ban on the use of artificial trans fat at restaurants, likening its health danger to that of lead paint.

The proposal would limit the use of the artery-clogging fat, which is often used in fast foods, to 0.5 grams per serving. The proposal comes after a year-long city campaign to educate restaurants on the effects of such fats and encourage them to stop their use.

The city said the voluntary campaign failed and while some of New York's more than 20,000 restaurants reduced or stopped using artificial trans fat, overall use did not decline at all.

"Trans fat causes heart disease. Like lead in paint, artificial trans fat in food is invisible and dangerous, and it can be replaced," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said in a statement.

"While it may take some effort, restaurants can replace trans fat without changing the taste or cost of food. No one will miss it when it's gone."

New York's Board of Health, an independent regulatory body, will hold a hearing on the proposal on October 30 and is expected vote on it in December.

In Chicago, city officials are seeking to reduce the use of the fats in a voluntary campaign similar to the effort that failed in New York.

Trans fat, found in some margarine, fast food, cookies, cakes and pastry, is produced when oil is partially hydrogenated and it increases the shelf life of foods. But it also raises low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, in the blood and cuts the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol.

The department said that on average, Americans consume almost 6 grams of trans fat each day; a single fast food meal can contain more than 10 grams of trans fat.

"Consumers have the right to know what goes on their plates," said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.

"For decades, research has linked trans fat and heart disease. With so many alternatives available, no restaurant needs to put its customers at risk by cooking with trans fats," Brownell said.

In the United States, more than 60 percent of the population is overweight and 30 percent is obese.

The proposal would give restaurants six months to switch to oils, margarine and shortening with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

After 18 months, all other food items would need to contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Packaged food items still in the manufacturer's original packaging when served would be exempt.

The department would also require that more restaurants print calorie information on menus.

Copyright 2006 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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