Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Food Fight

New York City's Department of Health held a public hearing yesterday in advance of their final decision on whether to ban trans fats from city restaurants. The result was overwhelming support to go ahead with the ban, although a fairly vocal opposition turned out as well.

The hearing drew attention to the fact that many people are not sure what trans fats are or what the ban would entail. Listening to the radio, it seemed many people thought politicians were trying to deprive them of their right to eat french fries or donuts in public.

"The next thing they're going to ban is eggs Benedict," the New York Post quoted Audrey Silk, founder of New York City Clash. "Eliminating choice through coercive behavior is not the American way."

Nonsense... If restaurants actually gave us a choice of what oil to use when preparing our foods, maybe Ms. Silk would have a point.

What the Health Department proposes is that restaurants remove most artificial trans fats from their cooking over an 18-month period. Again, this doesn't mean that greasy burgers will not be on the menu, it only means that restaurants will have to switch to oils, margarines and shortening that have less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

Trans fats are industrially created through a chemical process of hydrogenation. Unlike other fats, trans fats are neither required nor beneficial for health and are, in fact, linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

For more information check out these links:

NYC Health Department proposes phasing out Trans Fat

What is Trans Fat?
The Campaign to Ban Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Foes Sizzling Mad over Trans-Fat 'Ban'

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