By David Colburn
Consumers may soon notice a slight change in Illinois’ food supply. According to MSNBC.com, a bill banning artificially-added trans fat from restaurants, bakeries, and vending machine snacks will soon be reviewed by the Senate. The bill, HB1600, would result in a transition to healthier, yet more expensive oils in future food preparation.
School cafeterias will be exempt from the potential legislation until 2016, as reported by SJ-R.com.
Scientific research has found a correlation between consumption of trans fat and coronary disease, high cholesterol and various other health issues. If the bill is signed into law, Illinois would become the second state after California to pass a major state-wide ban of the ingredient.
According to WebMD, a small amount of trans fat is found naturally in some dairy and meat products, but the amount of artificially-added trans fat is where the true concern lies.
MSNBC.com states that synthetic trans fat was patented in 1903 and is created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils as a means of preservation. Some examples of common trans fat sources include shortening, margarine, and crackers. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming less than two grams of trans fat per day. Packaged foods began listing the trans fat content on nutritional labels in 2006, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing a petition by a consumer group to prohibit partially hydrogenated oils in food. According to SJ-R.com, the FDA allows products to be labeled as “trans fat free” if the amount is less than 0.5 grams per serving.
Michael Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest believes that trans fat serves as an “unnecessary hazard, there’s no reason to accept it. Companies big and little are still using it…so unless the whole industry switched, why accept he risk?” Rep. La Shawn Ford shares such sentiments on the ingredient: “Trans fat literally are poisonous to the system.” Ford is confident in the bill’s success “because there’s no industry opposition” and the ban will not include packaged foods.
Some restaurant purveyors are not as enthusiastic about the potential legislation. “Nobody is making people go out to eat,” says Cindy Wilson, general manager at Ravanelli’s in Collinsville. “It’s a free country and people should be able to eat what they want.” Others have taken the growing health concern into consideration. Various fast food chains, such as Wendy’s and KFC, have made efforts to reduce and eliminate trans fat from their menu over the past few years.
STLToday.com confirms that the bill passed in the House on a 73-43 vote. According to the Chicago Tribune, the ban would go into effect on Jan 1, 2013 based on the bill’s success in the Senate. A committee hearing is scheduled to take place on May 10, 2011, as confirmed by chief Senate sponsor Donne Trotter.