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Intrepidation

NYC mulls ban on trans fats in eateries

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NEW YORK - Three years after the city banned smoking in restaurants, health officials are talking about prohibiting something they say is almost as bad: artificial trans fatty acids.

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The city health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city's 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.

Artificial trans fats are found in some shortenings, margarine and frying oils and turn up in foods from pie crusts to french fries to doughnuts.

Doctors agree that trans fats are unhealthy in nearly any amount, but a spokesman for the restaurant industry said he was stunned the city would seek to ban a legal ingredient found in millions of American kitchens.

"Labeling is one thing, but when they totally ban a product, it goes well beyond what we think is prudent and acceptable," said Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the city's chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association.

He said the proposal could create havoc: Cooks would be forced to discard old recipes and scrutinize every ingredient in their pantry. A restaurant could face a fine if an inspector finds the wrong type of vegetable shortening on its shelves.

The proposal also would create a huge problem for national chains. Among the fast foods that would need to get an overhaul or face a ban: McDonald's french fries, Kentucky Fried Chicken and several varieties of Dunkin' Donuts.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden acknowledged that the ban would be a challenge for restaurants, but he said trans fats can easily be replaced with substitute oils that taste the same or better and are far less unhealthy.

"It is a dangerous and unnecessary ingredient," Frieden said. "No one will miss it when it's gone."

A similar ban on trans fats in restaurant food has been proposed in Chicago and is still under consideration, although it has been ridiculed by some as unnecessary government meddling.

The latest version of the Chicago plan would only apply to companies with annual revenues of more than $20 million, a provision aimed exclusively at fast-food giants.

A few companies have moved to eliminate trans fats on their own.

Wendy's announced in August that it had switched to a new cooking oil that contains no trans fatty acids. Crisco now sells a shortening that contains zero trans fats. Frito-Lay removed trans fats from its Doritos and Cheetos. Kraft's took trans fats out of Oreos.

McDonald's began using a trans fat-free cooking oil in Denmark after that country banned artificial trans fats in processed food, but it has yet to do so in the United States.

Walt Riker, vice president of corporate communications at McDonald's, said in a statement Tuesday that the company would review New York's proposal.

"McDonald's knows this is an important issue, which is why we continue to test in earnest to find ways to further reduce (trans fatty acid) levels," he said.

New York's health department had asked restaurants to impose a voluntary ban last year but found use of trans fats unchanged in recent surveys.

Under the New York proposal, restaurants would need to get artificial trans fats out of cooking oils, margarine and shortening by July 1, 2007, and all other foodstuffs by July 1, 2008. It would not affect grocery stores. It also would not apply to naturally occurring trans fats, which are found in some meats and dairy.

The Board of Health has yet to approve the proposal and will not do so until at least December, Frieden said.

The U.S.

Food and Drug Administration began requiring food labels to list trans fats in January.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard University School of Public Health, praised New York health officials for considering a ban, which he said could save lives.

"Artificial trans fats are very toxic, and they almost surely causes tens of thousands of premature deaths each year," he said. "The federal government should have done this long ago."

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I think it's a bunch of bull $h!. Everyone knows fast food isn't good for you, most sane people go there knowing it's unhealthy...who cares? If you don't wanna eat it then don't, but don't force your health nut issues on others.

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I'm for the ban.  Trans Fat is nasty and unnecessary.

198542[/snapback]

Don't eat the food then...I mean seriously...do you go to McDonald's cuz the food is healthy? I should hope not. Besides, chaning teh oil isn't gonna magically make everything healthier...you still fry the $h! outta it.

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Hydrogenated vegetable oils are an attempt to turn naturally liquid oils into something closer to naturally saturated fats such as butter (milk fats) and lard (beef or pork fat), which are semi-solid at room temperature. In doing so they reduce the benefits of these normally poly-unsaturated fats, by saturating them with more hydrogen. FYI McDonalds uses a vegetable oil with natural beef flavoring as a substitute for lard, except in regions with a strong taboo about eating beef.

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Trans fats came to be used so frequently back in the 1960s and 1970s when it was thought that butter and lard was incredibly unhealthy. Hydrogenated VEGETABLE oil sounded healthier...but in reality is worse.

It isn't that these kinds of foods will become healthy, but that they will become much less unhealthy.

As far as cooks throwing out recipes...only recipes that date back to the 1960s/70s will be affected. This isn't eliminating every restaurant of granny's special meatloaf or anything...

Honestly the biggest benefit to hydrogenated oils is that the processed foods have a longer shelf life. That's it. Donuts were made before hydrogenated oils, and all that delicious Southern cooking was too...so those recipes will get switched back to bacon fat or lard like they were before...big deal. They'll all taste the same or better.

Exactly. More federal intrusion into areas where it shouldn't belong.

198583[/snapback]

I believe these were city ordinances, not Federal laws. Edited by Croc

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I'm for the ban.  Trans Fat is nasty and unnecessary.

198542[/snapback]

"he said, while he lit up another cigarette....." pot and kettle? just sayin' if we ban this stuff, where do we stop? Whole milk can make you obese. Peanut butter is bad for you. That cheese will kill you.

Edited by regfootball

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"he said, while he lit up another cigarette....."  pot and kettle?  just sayin' if we ban this stuff, where do we stop?  Whole milk can make you obese.  Peanut butter is bad for you.  That cheese will kill you.

198654[/snapback]

No...?

And New York already banned smoking...and I have no problem with that.

Whole milk doesn't make you obese...and it contains a lot of healthy vitamins and nutrients. Peanut butter is actually really good for you unless you get the kind with trans fats. Cheese? Won't kill you. Cheese is also a good source of dairy.

Trans fats have zero positive health effects, and many negative ones. Trans fats became used based on a lie (that margerine was better for you than butter). Why keep em?

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And New York already banned smoking...and I have no problem with that.

Whole milk doesn't make you obese...and it contains a lot of healthy vitamins and nutrients.  Peanut butter is actually really good for you unless you get the kind with trans fats.  Cheese?  Won't kill you.  Cheese is also a good source of dairy.

that's good news because right now that is seemingly all my kid will eat!

just jerkin your chain on the ciggies things....LOL

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yea...if you get the kind of peanut butter that comes with the oil on top that you have to mix in, you got the good stuff. Smucker's makes a really good peanut butter.

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An outright ban is overkill. I would support a disclosure law, however, for menus. This is not like a smoking ban. Smokers affect the entire room.

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I believe these were city ordinances, not Federal laws.

198648[/snapback]

Same difference. I don't pretend to live in New York, but I would hardly think this is the worst of their problems...

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I'm with Croc on this one.

I'm all for reducing the amount of artificial crap these corporations stuff down our mostly-captive throats.

Ever read the label on Dasani? There are INGREDIENTS - in the WATER!!! Leave it to Coke. Bastards.

I recently switched to butter after having used margarine all my life. Even when I did buy margarine, I always used non-hydrogenated, after one of my friends informed me of what hydrogenation is.

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Trans fats are dangerous, unhealthy food additives. Why NOT ban them?

MSG is a lot less unhealthy than trans fats, but I would be shocked if NY were proposing a ban on MSG and the same negative reactions were given...

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Trans fats are dangerous, unhealthy food additives.  Why NOT ban them?

MSG is a lot less unhealthy than trans fats, but I would be shocked if NY were proposing a ban on MSG and the same negative reactions were given...

198791[/snapback]

You want to know my theory on that one?

MSG is an acronym. It sounds artificial, so it's easier for people to imagine it as unhealthy.

Trans fats sound natural (and are, in very limited amounts).

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I've been in restaurants in New York where I would not be surprised to get rabies from the food. The trans-fat issue seems a lot smaller than the cleanliness one.

Another feel-good "nanny me" law; there are no second-hand trans fats and no geese are force fed them. Make a law to disclose them by all means, but lets get over it otherwise.

Besides, like that scene in the movie "Sleeper", years from now they'll reverse themselves yet again and declare that transfats are great for you, as is smoking and drinking.

Edited by tmp

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You want to know my theory on that one?

MSG is an acronym. It sounds artificial, so it's easier for people to imagine it as unhealthy.

Trans fats sound natural (and are, in very limited amounts).

198793[/snapback]

How does "partially hydrogenated oil" sound? That sounds pretty damn artificial to me...

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How does "partially hydrogenated oil" sound?  That sounds pretty damn artificial to me...

198815[/snapback]

You're right, and if the title here was "NYC mulls ban on partially hydrogenated oils in eateries", the reaction would probably be different...

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America is just too obsessed with big portions of fatty food...you know, the country really could use a nice long obsession with anorexia...one that extends OUTSIDE of Westwood.

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Yeaaaahh... 'cause anorexia is healthy.

The only healthy way to lose weight is SLOWLY.

...but yes, I agree about portions. It also has something to do with how fast you eat. I've heard that it takes 15 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. In that 15 minutes, if you kept eating, you overstuffed it.

For me, I know how much I should eat and stop - then feel full later. I hate the bloated feeling of "eating until you're full", because you're really over-stuffing yourself.

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Oh I agree the only way to healthily lose it is slowly...but let's be honest...crash diets haven't been big for no reason at all.

The only time I will conciously overeat is at Thanksgiving, as it is my favorite holiday. That's it. Self-control is paramount the other 364 days of the year...

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I'm never usually for intrusive regulation, but I'm going to side with Croc on this one.

My country is mulling a similar ban, and already many snack foods (such as Lays) up here have had their trans fats eliminated, which helps to prove that changing the recipe isn't that hard. One of our cookie companies, spent almost half a million dollars changing their recipe and eliminated Trans Fats. Their sales have increased because many of Nabisco's offerings still contain these fats.

Eateries should follow suit because Trans Fats are becoming a major factor in heart disease and obesity in general. These fats have a tendency to go straight around your abdominal muscles, thus poorly affecting your health.

However, people will instantly think McDonalds is the culprit for all this. In fact, McDonalds, at least in Canada, has the lowest average Trans Fat amounts in their food, because the company is actively trying to reduce the amounts of partially hydrogenated fats.

You'd be surprised to realize that Starbucks had the highest average of Trans Fats in it's foods. CTV News Link and that some of its beverages have more fat than a Big Mac...

For the sake of our well being, these fats should be banned.

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Yea...I mean I'm Libertarian and therefore generally against nanny laws...but it's really hard to eat anywhere without consuming these partially hydrogenated oils!

As for Starbucks...yea their baked goods and pastries are nutritionally disgusting. The drinks, though, are fine. If you're health-concious, order non-fat, no-whip.

Edited by Croc

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