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Trans fat ban

Massachusetts bill seeks trans fats ban

Monday, January 01, 2007 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: trans fat ban, trans fat, hydrogenated oils


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(NewsTarget) Just shortly after New York City banned all restaurants from using trans fats in their food preparation, a lawmaker introduced a bill on Tuesday that would make Massachusetts the first entire state to ban artificial trans fats from restaurants.

New York City's ban of the artery-clogging oils goes into full effect July of 2007. "We have an opportunity to vastly improve public health by directing restaurants to switch to healthier alternatives," said Peter Koutoujian, D-Mass.

The Massachusetts bill uses language similar to new regulations announced this month by New York City, but does make it the first effort to ban the use of trans fats on a statewide basis. Currently, Massachusetts has no law that prevents any food-serving entity or restaurant from frying foods in oils that contain high levels of trans fats.

The recent New York City law -- believed to be the first of its kind in the United States -- requires all restaurants including fast food chains to eliminate trans fats by July 2007 or face fines for each violation. LDL cholesterol is increased by eating foods prepared in trans fat oils, while HDL cholesterol is lowered.

Rep. Koutoujian said of the ban, "New York City's decision to ban trans fats from restaurants shows how government can take positive action toward improving public health." Currently, the state of Massachusetts has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country, according to the CDC in Atlanta.

Under Koutoujian's proposal, no foods with artificial trans fat could be used to prepare restaurant menu items. Restaurants in Massachusetts would have one year to switch to oils, margarines and shortenings that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat for every serving -- or face stiff non-compliance fines. However, the bill makes exception to food served directly to customers in the manufacturer's original sealed packages.

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