Trans Fat Bill doesn’t go that far by Mitch E. Perry

02/05/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday

 

Following in the footsteps of New York City’s health department,  there are now bills to restrict or banish artificial trans fats in restaurants or school cafeterias, or require warnings in establishments that serve foods containing them, have been introduced in at least 19 states- including the Sunshine State.

 

A bill in the Florida legislature is being sponsored in the House by Hallendale Beach Democrat Joe Gibbons.  But his proposal would NOT go as far as New York other jurisdictions looking to ban trans fats – but simply would require restaurants to let customers know whether they sell foods with trans fats (roll tape#1 o.q.”carrot is bigger than the stick”)

Artificial trans fats, short for trans fatty acids, are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils commonly used for deep frying and baking processed cookies, cakes and crackers.

They became popular with the food industry because they lengthen shelf life and improve taste. But critics say they raise levels of bad cholesterol in the blood while reducing the good kind, leading to clogged arteries and heart disease

But even though the proposal by Representative Gibbons could be considered modest in scope, The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is dead set against it.

 

Cragin Mosteller is a spokesperson for that group (roll tape#1 o.q.”are demanding”)

 

In the wake of New York City’s move, many other national fast food chains say they will voluntarily follow suit – like Wendy’s and Yum Brands, which is the corporate owner of KFC and Taco Bell.

 

Representative Joe Gibbons says his bill is the best way to handle the problems that trans fats in foods present, because it doesn’t dictate to restaurants how to handle their businesss (roll tape#3 o.q.” along the same line”)

 

Critics of the proposal to ban trans fats altogether say that it would devastate small businesses, especially small independent restaurants.  They say switching to canola oils and certain soy-based oils are expensive.   

 

Ronni Litz Julien is a registered dietician and a nutritionist.  She says that people who enjoy foods that contain trans fats should not worry that those products will taste worse without them (roll tape#4 o.q.”why not just go for it’)

 

Julien is behind a campaign to rid all of the Miami/Dade County’s restaurants form using trans fats in their food products.  She’s scheduled to address the County Commission Tuesday about just that. 

  

But Cragin Mosteller from the Florida Restaurant &  Lodging Association says that there is no need for legislation even informing customers about the trans fat content in their meals, because, she says, the consumer is not demanding that just yet (roll tape#5 o.q.”

 One particular segment”)

 Libertarians say it’s not the place for government to tell restaurant owners what ingredients they should put in their food.  But with the concerns about obesity and heart disease growing, New York City Public Health officials went the education route initially.  In June of 2005, they encouraged restaurants to voluntarily drop trans fats But a spokeswoman for that department told the website stateline.org that a year and a half later, the use of trans fats had not declined substantially among the NYC restaurants, and hence the more dramatic measure.  That law gives restaurants until July of 2008 to come into compliance.    

With childhood obesity rates soaring, Hallandale Beach State Representative Joe Gibbons says his law will also alert youngsters about the dangers of trans fat at an appropriate time

(roll tape#6 o.q.”very expensive these days”)

 

South Florida based nutrrionist Ronni Litz Julien would like the entire state to ban trans fats…but for now, she’ll work on trying to get the City of Miami to accept her proposal

(roll tape#7 o.q.”giant step for mankind”)

 

Ronni Litz Julien’s website is Bantransfatsinmiami.com

 

Last month Los Angeles County voted to study the feasibility of banning  trans fats in county restaurants. 

 

  

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