Thursday, December 7, 2006

Big Apple Bans Transfats in Restaurants

Damn, sometimes I am amazed that something THIS major happens in a big city like New York. People of all sorts live there, meaning that a lot "goes" without question. For example, New Yorkers who want to change the sex on their birth certificate can do so without question. Interesting enough. Yesterdays paper dropped another bomb consisting of a major municipal ban on TRANS FATS in restaurants. My day began in a the best of ways. I write these entries, hoping to educate others on their rights when it comes to food an health. Knowing that something SO HUGE like banning trans fats in restaurants can happen in New York gave me hope to continue this method of gentle nagging!
So here is the deal. As of July 2007, only tiny amounts of trans fats will be allowed in every restaurant including fast food or fancy food. Trans fats are chemically modified food ingredients that raise levels of BAD cholesterol which is linked to heart disease. Basically, trans fats have a longer shelf life than other fats and they are mainly used in baked goods, fried foods, salad dressings, and margarine. About 10% of NY restaurants will (likely fast food & places that have a standard menu) face the requirement of posting caloric content of all their menu items nearby the ordering area by the cash registers.
Now, I know restaurant owners are angry because suddenly they need to find new suppliers (most products they use already arrive with trans fats, they don't just add them while cooking) and change some recipes around. This was my favorite quote in the NY Times article from Dec. 6 by Dan Flesher a National Restaurant Association spokesman: "This is a misguided attempt to social engineering by a group of physicians who don't understand the restaurant industry." Correct me if I am wrong, but don't physicians make money from sick people? Social engineering? Sorry if this group of health department officials decided that obesity is finally a problem and needs to be handled. Here is another WAAHHHH moment by O'Neil White, a baker at Sweet Chef in Harlem. "Things without trans fats are harder to get and more expensive."
Oh, don't worry Mr. White in Harlem, I believe that economics works in your favor here. The entire state of New York is now in need of products without trans fats. I am sure there are many suppliers AS WE SPEAK rearranging their ingredients to meet the demand of their NY customers. This makes these ingredients/products easier to find, amounts plentiful, prices will fall.
Chicago is next on the list of trans fat warriors. I am sure California (I hope) does the same. Its sad that people cannot decide for themselves that they are overweight and need to avoid foods made with trans fats. That is where the health department has to step in and remind us:
Approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese.

Approximately 30.3 percent of children (ages 6 to 11) are overweight and 15.3 percent are obese. For adolescents (ages 12 to 19), 30.4 percent are overweight and 15.5 percent are obese.

Dearest Restaurant owners: Thank your lucky stars someone stepped in to make a change. The people who pay for YOUR food on your family's table are going to die if they keep eating JUNK you serve them. A dead customer is NOT a paying customer.

I am also thinking now of the vegan/vegetarian restaurants laughing all the way to their lunch breaks because they don't have to change ANYTHING on their menus!

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