The Big Apple bans bad fat!

The municipal board of health for New York city has banned the use of artificial trans fats at all restaurants and food outlets in the city.

The legislation which comes into effect in July next year, will give the restaurant industry until July 2008 to totally eliminate the artery clogging fats from all their foods and kitchens and replace them with healthier products.

The New York city board passed the ban by a unanimous vote which will make city the first in the United States to ban artificial trans fats at all restaurants, cafes and bakeries.

The board also passed a measure which means that restaurants which chose to inform customers about calorie content will have to list the information on the menu.

This will apply to fast-food restaurants and major food chains and has not been welcomed by the industry who say the rule would be a disincentive for restaurants to provide any nutritional information.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who banned smoking in bars and restaurants and has been accused of being health-obsessed, has dismissed criticism that New York is crossing a line by trying to legislate diets.

Trans fats are formed when liquid oils are made into solid fats by adding hydrogen in a process called hydrogenation and have a long shelf life.

The best example is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is used for frying and baking and appears in processed foods such as cookies, pizza dough, pancake and hot chocolate mixes and crackers.

Following the Food and Drug Administration demands that companies list trans fat content on labels many food makers have already stopped using trans fats.

McDonald's are said to be experimenting with more than a dozen healthier oil blends and the Wendy's chain introduced a zero-trans fat oil last August.

Other major chains are also working to find a substitute which is acceptable to the public.

The FDA estimates the average American eats 4.7 pounds of trans fats each year.

Trans fats are considered to be harmful because they contribute to heart disease by raising bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol and many experts believe that trans fats are a greater health hazard than saturated fats.

The trans fats ban has been welcomed by health and medical groups, but the American Heart Association has warned against a too speedy change because restaurants could then resort to using products which are high in saturated fat such as palm oil.

The city of Chicago is also considering the restriction of trans fat in large restaurants.

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