Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New York wants to ban trans fats

Trans fats, which have been linked to heart disease, are being removed from many fast food kitchens across the United States as companies try to improve offerings to health-conscious diners.

Wendy’s International Inc. and Colonel's KFC have already switched to a zero-trans fat oil, and McDonald’s Corp. is considering the change.

Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil -- a process invented in the late 19th century to help lengthen the shelf life of food products. The added hydrogen also makes frying oil last longer.

Partially hydrogenated oil "raises the bad blood cholesterol (LDL) while lowering the good cholesterol (HDL)," says Marion Nestle, the author of What to Eat and a professor in the nutrition department at New York University.

New York is the city that banned smoking in restaurants three years ago. Now they are going another step further. Health officials are talking about prohibiting something they say is almost as bad: artificial trans fatty acids.

The New York health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city’s 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.

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