Posted on July 27, 2009
After two years of waging war on artificial trans fats in New York City restaurants, nearly all city restaurants have successfully cut the artery-clogging unsaturated fats from their menus (or at least to low levels of less than 0.55 grams of trans fat per serving), health officials are reporting. New York City’s Department of Health announced in December 2006 all licensed dining establishments—not only restaurants, but school cafeterias and street vending carts as well—were required to phase out heart-unhealthy trans fats from their foods. Prior to the ban, the Department of Health found that about 50 percent of restaurants it inspected used artificial trans fats for cooking, frying, and baking in their shortenings, oils, and spreads. The department originally tried a voluntary program and an educational campaign by mailing information to train restaurant workers about the issue to about 30,000 food establishments. This educational campaign had little to no effect after a year. The department decided to instead launch a full-on mandatory ban of trans fat, which has worked well, despite some resistance from the restaurant industry, thinking it would affect business. By November 2009, less than two percent of restaurants still used trans fats, and that number has since decreased. Since the trans fat ban proved successful in New York, it has caught on and been adopted by at least 13 other jurisdictions, such as Boston.