NYC looking to trim the fat in restaurants

Lisa Napoli Sep 27, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: It can be tough to keep track of which foods are good for you and which aren’t. Spinach was OK. Until the E-coli outbreak. Doctors can’t quite seem to make up their minds about a glass of red wine every now and then. And fried foods . . . If you have to eat ’em, it’s best if you don’t use a certain kind of fat. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli reports that fat’s in the fire in New York City.

LISA NAPOLI: The New York City health department wants trans fats out of the kitchen. It’s voted to ban the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil from the city’s 24,000 food establishments.

That’s something Chuck Hurt of the New York State Restaurant Association can’t stomach:

CHUCK HURT: We don’t feel it’s the role of the government. It’s Orwellian to make everyone do it across the board.

Hurt says restaurants aren’t anti-health. He just thinks a regional ban on trans fats is unenforceable.

HURT: Many of the products restaurants use they buy already to go from third-party suppliers, baked goods in particular. And historically they have contained trans fats.

Hurt says, besides, healthier alternatives to trans fats could fatten your restaurant tab. But Michael Jacobsen of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the payoff is a healthier population:

MICHAEL JACOBSEN:“Consumers don’t know the difference. But their arteries will experience the difference.”

Jacobsen says if Wendy’s could eliminate transfats, Burger King and McDonalds and the best restaurants in New York can, too.

Jacobsen likes another of the Health Department’s ideas: prominent posting of calorie counts at some city restaurants. A public hearing on the new rules is set for October 30th. City officials in Chicago are considering their own trans fat ban.

In New York, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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