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Trans Fat Free New York and Mandatory Menu Labeling

Trans Fat FreeThe NYC Board of Health recently decided to ban all artificial trans fats from EVERY restaurant in New York. In addition, nutritional information will be required on all menus and menu boards in restaurants. This initiative is the first of its kind in the US and I suspect (and hope) other areas will follow closely behind (after the bugs are worked out).

With the exception of providing food items that come in the manufacturers original packaging (like potato chips), restaurants will be banned from using most frying oils containing artificial trans fats by July of 2007 and will have to eliminate the artificial trans fats from all foods by July 2008.

Nutritional information right on the menu. Instead of conspicuously asking for nutritional information during a business lunch (and possibly interrupting an otherwise productive meeting), it will be listed in plain sight. For business travelers who visit the city often, this is a HUGE step in the right direction. It can be really challenging to eat healthy meals when on the road.

I think this is an AWESOME idea, but the National Restaurant Association really doesn’t. The Association claims many restaurants are taking their own initiatives and this program will cause some places to revert to less healthy options. According to the Association,

“This is a farm-to-table issue. It takes time to develop, plant, grow, harvest and process new alternative crops and to test new oils. Because of this supply problem, with such a limited timetable, many of the city’s restaurateurs will have no choice but to switch to oils high in unhealthful saturated fats, a move opposed by health advocacy groups.”

My only restaurant experience was working in a small pizza place for a while in college, so I can’t pretend to understand the workings of the industry. Should some restaurants revert to the unhealthy options, I really hope it is a temporary fix until they come up with a healthier solution.