News > Midsized Companies
    SAVE   |   EMAIL   |   PRINT   |   RSS  
No blubbering: NYC wants less fat
Newspaper says city health department urges restaurants to stop serving food containing trans fats.
August 11, 2005: 10:14 AM EDT
Trans fats are prominent in familiar foods like cookies and French fries.
Trans fats are prominent in familiar foods like cookies and French fries.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - New York City wants its restaurants to trim the fat, trans fat that is.

The city's health department urged all restaurants in the city Wednesday to stop serving food containing trans fats, according to a report in The New York Times.

Trans fats, which are prominent in foods like cookies and French fries, are chemically modified ingredients that can be found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, the report said. The Times, citing health officials, said the fats increase the risk of heart disease and should not be part of any healthy diet.

"To help combat heart disease, the No. 1 killer in New York City, we are asking restaurants to voluntarily make an oil change and remove artificial trans fat from their kitchens," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city's health commissioner, told the newspaper.

Three decades ago trans fats were promoted as a healthy alternative to saturated fats like butter, according to the newspaper, but today, most experts agree they are the most dangerous type of fat in America.

A survey by the health department's food inspectors found that from 30 to 60 percent of the city's 20,000 restaurants use partially hydrogenated oil in food preparation, the Times reported. That means thousands of cooks and chefs might need to change their cooking and purchasing habits to meet the request, the newspaper said.

The health department will not seek to ban the ingredient outright, but it has begun a campaign to educate restaurateurs, their suppliers and the public about trans fats, according to the Times.

The paper said it isn't clear how many restaurants will heed Frieden's advice, but already many of the city's higher-priced restaurants avoid using the fats.

Public health officials say trans fat not only has the same heart-clogging properties as saturated fat, but also reduces the "good" cholesterol that works to clear arteries, the report said.

While countries like Denmark and Canada have considered or imposed regulations on trans fat, government agencies in the U.S. have largely relied on the industry to police itself, the Times reported. Outside of New York, the only effort of note was a campaign in Tiburon, a small town in Marin County, Calif., that led to 18 local restaurants ending the use of trans fats, the report said.

According to the paper, the city plans to conduct another survey next year to determine the effectiveness of the campaign and will then assess what further steps might be needed.

"Trans fat clearly contributes to heart disease, but it is something that is relatively new to the consumer environment," Dr. Sonia Angell, the department's director of cardiovascular disease prevention and control, told the newspaper.

Angell told the Times that common monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils like olive, peanut, sunflower and cottonseed oils are good alternatives to partially hydrogenated oil.

The newspaper said the city was careful to solicit the endorsement of the Restaurant Association before announcing its campaign, as well as the American Heart Association. However, many restaurant owners, workers and patrons interviewed by the newspaper met the city's campaign with some skepticism.

Karen Quam, a waitress at the Bridgeview Diner in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge section, told the newspaper: "Labeling is as far as you want to go. You don't want to be telling people what to eat."


Hungry? Click here to check out the world's best restaurants.  Top of page


New York
Manage alerts | What is this?