Facing a July 1 deadline, most restaurants have already eliminated artificial trans fat in oils used for frying, a new Health Department survey shows. The agency reported today that 83% of restaurants were not using artificial trans fat for frying as of June 1 – a full month before the new regulation will take effect.
The first phase of the trans fat regulation takes effect on July 1 and applies to oils, shortening and margarines used for frying and spreading – not to baked goods or prepared foods, or oils used to deep-fry dough or cake batter. These are covered by the second phase of the regulation, which takes effect on July 1, 2008. The Health Department’s new survey found that 57% of restaurants where trans fat content could be determined were using oils free of artificial trans fat for frying, as spreads, and even for baking – a purpose covered by the 2008 deadline. That’s up from approximately 50% in 2006.
“The vast majority of restaurants are using trans fat free oil for frying,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “This confirms that the switch is feasible. But many restaurants are still using spreads such as margarine that contain artificial trans fat. These products need to be replaced with widely available alternatives. We will continue to work closely with restaurants to eliminate harmful trans fat.”
“We’re excited about this change,” said Susan Giannetto, executive chef at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Times Square. “We’re keeping people healthy, and we’re making a better product. We want people to feel good about what they eat. The taste hasn’t changed.” Bubba Gump’s NYC restaurant switched to trans-fat-free fry oils more than three months ago. The company now plans make the same change at all of its establishments worldwide.
Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn, popular for its game burgers, barbeque and chocolate cake, made the switch easily. “We changed the oil in a few recipes, and we have not had any problem,” said owner Sam Barbieri. “We have not seen any change in quality or price.”
Trans Fat Regulations
Starting July 1, 2007, restaurants may not use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings or margarines for frying, pan-frying (sautéing) or grilling if they contain 0.5 grams or more of trans fat per serving. The same restriction applies to spreads. Restaurants will be cited for violations, but fines will not be issued until October 1, 2007, after a three-month grace period.
Beginning July 1, 2008, no food containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings or margarines with 0.5 grams or more trans fat per serving may be stored, used or served by food service establishments in New York City. The regulation does not apply to food served in the manufacturer’s original, sealed packaging, such as a package of crackers.
The Trans Fat Help Center
The Health Department, with a grant from the American Heart Association, launched the Trans Fat Help Center in April to help restaurants switch from artificial trans fat to more healthful oils while maintaining the same taste and texture of food. The Help Center offers the following resources at no cost to restaurants:
The Help Line. Restaurants can call 311 to reach the help line for information on the regulation Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Assistance is also available in Chinese, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages with interpretation services.
The Website. www.notransfatnyc.org features easy-to-use resources, available to restaurants 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Restaurant operators may download “0 grams trans fat” product lists, a guide to frying without trans fat, get information about classes, or download a brochure on the new regulations.
Classes for Restaurant Operators. Restaurant operators can sign up for classes on cooking and baking without artificial trans fat. Classes will be offered monthly, in a variety of locations depending on demand, until December 2008. For information about how to sign up, visit www.notransfatnyc.org.
A complete guide to complying with NYC’s new trans fat regulation is available at: http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cardio/cardio-transfat-bro.pdf
Calorie Labeling Regulation in New York City
A separate regulation, which will also go into effect July 1, 2007, requires restaurants with standard portions that make calorie information publicly available to post it on menus where consumers can see it when they order. The rule will affect about 10% of city restaurants. No fines or citations will be issued for violations until October 1, 2007. The Health Department is working with restaurants affected by this regulation that are in the process of redesigning menu boards to assure compliance.
One restaurant association has sued New York City, challenging the calorie labeling regulation. “This rule simply requires restaurants to provide information they already publish where their customers will actually see it,” said Dr. Frieden. “It is unfortunate that some restaurants are so ashamed of what they are serving that they would rather go to court than present this important information where their customers can readily see it.”
Information about the calorie labeling regulation in New York City restaurants is online at: http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cdp/cdp-pan-calorie-bro.pdf
Andrew Tucker | EurekAlert!
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