Trans fats are chemically modified fats rich in cholesterol and known to cause heart disease. They are widely used as a substitute for saturated fats in bakery products, fried foods like chips, salad dressings and other foods since long. Food prepared using trans fats is also believed to have a longer shelf life.
In a mighty effort to fight Obesity, the members of the New York City Board of Health, voted yesterday to ban the use of huge amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries.
Experts believe that eliminating trans fats will not change the taste of foods, but chefs and restaurant owners disagree, saying it will be difficult and more expensive to replicate the taste and texture of some menu items without them.
The health department's restaurant inspectors will be in charge of enforcing both the trans fat and calorie regulations. Violators would have to face fines greater than $200. The Board of Health also demands that restaurants, especially fast food outlets, display the calorific value of each menu item on display boards.
The restaurant industry is highly agitated and accuses the government of interference into free enterprise and civil liberties.
'This is a misguided attempt at social engineering by a group of physicians who don't understand the restaurant industry,' said Dan Flesher, a representative of National Restaurant Association. He said the association would challenge one or both measures legally.
Mayor Bloomberg said, 'the city is not going to take away anybody's ability to go out and have the kind of food they want, in the quantities they want.' 'We are just trying to make food safer,' he added.
Restaurants have time until next July 1 to reduce usage of oils and margarine. Admissible fat level is a half-gram of trans fat per serving.
Posting caloric content also takes effect the same day, this should not be a matter of concern for large chain restaurants with highly standardized menus.