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New York bans trans fats

6th December 2006

31102006_friedchicken.jpgThe New York City Board of Health has banned the use of all but the smallest quantities of trans fats from the city's eateries.

Amid strong opposition from the restaurant industry, city health officials have approved measures banning amounts of trans fat of half a gram per serving from all restaurants in the municipal area.

Trans fats are the chemically modified food ingredients that raise levels of a particularly unhealthy form of cholesterol and have been squarely linked to heart disease. Long used as a substitute for saturated fats in baked goods, fried foods, salad dressings, margarine and other foods, trans fats also have a longer shelf life than other alternatives.

Restaurants will have until next July 1 to eliminate oils, margarines and shortening containing trans fats from recipes. By July 1, 2008, they must remove all menu items that exceed the new limit, including bread, cakes, chips and salad dressings.

Restaurateurs have protested that the new rules - which will be enforced by health inspectors - are an unnecessary and unwelcome intrusion into their businesses.

They say removing trans fats will affect the taste and appearance of some foods. Doughnuts, fritters, biscuits and deep fried items are particularly hard to prepare with a trans fat substitute.

However, the Board of Health has the power to make executive decisions like this without the approval of any other agency.

At the same time, it passed a regulation requiring food outlets to display the calorie content of each menu item.

Similar moves are under way in Chigaco. Analysts say the New York standards have set a precedent for other states and cities in the US.

 

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