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Originally published February 13 2007

Michigan may be next to move away from trans fats

by Beau Hodai

(NewTarget) Michigan may be the next in a growing line of states and cities considering a ban on trans fat.

State Rep. Lee Gonzales, D-Flint Township, introduced four bills last week that could impact the health and diets of Michiganders. The first and most drastic of the bills would ban the use of trans fat in all foods prepared by restaurants by July 1, 2008.

The second version of the bill would only ban the use of trans fat in large restaurant chains.

The third bill proposed by Gonzales would require the state to post warnings about trans fat consumption on a web site, and require restaurants to redraft their menus to contain warnings about foods that contain the harmful fats.

Gonzales’ final bill would require that state agencies -- such as public schools -- give preferential treatment to food contractors that do not use trans fat when granting private contracts.

“I’m not trying to impose my values on anybody but I happen to know we need to transform our food supply, make it safer, A through Z,” said Gonzales, who recently lost his father to diabetes.

The consumption of trans fat has been shown to contribute to a host of preventable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

However, there are those who acknowledge the health risks posed by trans fat consumption, but feel that state intervention is inappropriate.

While enjoying some french fries in a Traverse City, Mich. restaurant Shelley Boisvert voiced her concerns on the matter: “But my quandary is whether a government bill is the best way to do it. I mean, isn’t this something we should be doing for ourselves?”

Some are taking the initiative and phasing out trans fat use without state intervention.

Last week plans for a voluntary ban were announced in Los Angeles. The city would work with the California Restaurant Association to provide incentives for restaurants to phase out the harmful fats.

Recently, major franchises such as Wendy’s International, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken have announced plans to rid their menus of trans fats. MacDonald’s Corp. has also announced that trans fats will no longer be used in the preparation of their french fries.

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