Foodservice Equipment Reports

Massachusetts City Sets Country’s Toughest Trans Fat Ban

Not even trace amounts of trans fat will be allowed in restaurant food served in Chelsea, Mass. The city just next door to Boston voted July 16 to enact the harshest trans fat ban in the country; while other cities that have established similar bans have allowed for trace amounts of artificial trans fat in food, Chelsea will prohibit it completely.

Trans fat, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, helps extend shelf life and improve texture and taste of baked goods, but has been linked to heart disease.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s federal labeling rule states that a product serving containing less than 0.5 grams of artificial trans fat qualifies as having zero trans fat. “It is virtually impossible to eliminate all trans fat from restaurant food,” said Dr. Joy Dubost, the National Restaurant Association’s director of nutrition policy, in testimony before the Chelsea health board.

Chelsea’s ban, in effect Jan.1, 2015, bans all traces of trans fat in all of the city’s foodservice establishments. Until then, restaurants and bakeries can serve food containing artificial trans fat, as long as it is 0.5g or less per serving. After that date, all trans fat is banned. Operators can apply for an exemption, but it is unclear how that process would work. Businesses that violate the ban are subject to a fine of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $300 for any thereafter within any single, one-year period.

Five other cities in Massachusetts have trans fat bans, as do eight East Coast cities, including New York and Philadelphia. Oregon and Washington State have local laws; California has a statewide trans fat ban. None go as far as Chelsea’s pending  law. The full map of bans is available here through the NRA’s website.

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