A couple of weeks ago, I let loose on Dr. Thomas Frieden, New York City’s health commissioner because he appeared to be backing off from his proposal to ban artery-clogging trans fats from Big Apple restaurants.
The ban requires restaurants to stop using most frying oils containing trans fat by July 2007. They’ll have to remove it from menus altogether by July 2008. Yeah!
Restaurant industry mouthpieces are making the usual noises about how unreasonable the ban is."We don't think that a municipal health agency has any business banning a product the Food and Drug Administration has already approved," said Dan Fleshler, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, whined in the AP story.
But it’s not like they have to dump trans fats tomorrow, for goodness sakes. The ban gives sellers of doughnuts and other baked goods until July 2008 to comply. The eateries will also get a three-month grace period after July 2007 before being socked with fines for still peddling trans fat.
And New York restaurant owners can’t claim to be surprised by this move—the health department has been pressuring them to voluntarily stop using trans fats for a year, and had only persuaded half of New York restaurants to do so, according to the Los Angeles Times.
What’s more, a loophole lets restaurants keep selling foods that come in the manufacturer’s original packaging, and there’s no law stopping food manufacturers from loading up on trans fat. (Oh goodness, please don't take that as a recommendation. Trans fats are bad, bad, bad for you!)
The bottom line is this: trans fat is horrible for our health. It isn’t the health commissioner’s job to make things easier for restaurant owners. It’s his job to protect the health of New York’s citizens, and the trans fat ban is major step in that direction. Hats off to him and the New York City Board of Health, and let’s help other cities follow New York’s example!
From Jennifer Moore of the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog Squad
Note from Connie: I second Jennifer's enthusiasm. This is stupendous news, and I'm thrilled to live in a city that is so at the forefront of this ban-trans-fat movement! By the way, bear in mind, folks, that trans fats are used quite often in all those baked goods that tempt us -- donuts, French fries, breads, crackers, etc. So that's how this applies to this SUGAR SHOCK! Blog.