Posted on Wed, Dec. 06, 2006
AMERICA’S WELL-BEING | The watch on how we eat and live continues
NEW YORK CITY OKS BAN ON TRANS FATS
Many residents support the move, the first of its kind.
By JOCELYN NOVECK
The Associated Press
NEW YORK | Yes, said Toni Lewis, as she caught a quick dinner on the run at McDonalds before her child’s piano lesson. Maybe New York City IS going too far telling people what they can and can’t eat.
But you know what?
“I welcome the intrusion,” she said. “This is New York. People eat out a lot. We don’t have a choice. We need someone to make it a healthier proposition.”
It was hard to find consumers who felt much differently in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s Board of Health unanimous vote to ban artificial trans fats in restaurants, the first such ban in the nation. It appeared that for many New Yorkers, health concerns trumped fears of a “nanny state,” of the food police, of Big Brother supervising our stomachs.
“I don’t care about what might be politically correct and what’s not,” said Murray Bader, nursing a cup of coffee Tuesday morning at Dunkin’ Donuts. “I want to live longer!”
The 72-year-old Manhattan resident called the ban a “wakeup call” for a public often unaware of the risks of what they’re eating. “This stuff clogs up your vessels,” he said of the artificial fats. “I’m a borderline diabetic, and I want to keep it that way — borderline.”
“It’s basically a slow form of poison,” said David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. “I applaud New York City and frankly, I think there should be a nationwide ban.”
Not everyone agrees with Katz — he’s gotten angry e-mails calling him and colleagues the “food police” and saying, “If I want to eat trans fats, that’s my inalienable right.” To which, he says, he responds: “Would you want the burden of asking your restaurant whether there’s lead in the food? Whether there’s arsenic in the bread? For all I know, maybe arsenic makes bread more crusty. But it’s poison.”
Some industry representatives were not happy with the ban. E. Charles Hunt, executive vice president of the New York State Restaurant Association, said the city had overstepped its authority by ordering restaurants to abandon an ingredient permitted by the FDA.
“This is a legal product,” he said. “They’re headed down a slippery slope here.”
The Board of Health, which passed the ban unanimously, did give restaurants a break by loosening the deadline for compliance. Restaurants will be barred from using most frying oils containing trans fats by July and will have another year to eliminate trans fats from all of their foods.
The ban, which was advocated by health-conscious Mayor Michael Bloomberg, follows a national requirement beginning this past January that companies list trans-fat content on food labels. Efforts are also being made to reduce the trans-fat content of snacks in school vending machines.
McDonalds Corp. has been experimenting with healthier oil blends but has not committed to a full switch yet. Wendy’s International Inc. introduced a zero-trans fat oil in August, and Yum Brands Inc.’s KFC and Taco Bell said they also will cut trans fats from their kitchens.
THE SKINNY ON TRANS FATS
•Trans fats are believed harmful in a number of ways, contributing to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One way they threaten the heart is by raising bad cholesterol and lowering the good kind.
•Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a common form of trans fat, is used for frying and baking and turns up in a host of processed foods: cookies, pizza dough, crackers and pre-made blends such as pancake mix.
IF THIS ISN'T IN THE RIGHT PLACE, SOMEONE CAN MOVE IT! THANKS!