Jul 18, 2006

Fat police at work in Chicago

Alderman wants to ban use of transfats in restaurants.
The federal government recommended last year that people get less than 1 percent of their calories from trans fats, and a nutrition advocacy group sued KFC last month, accusing the fast-food chain of frying its secret-recipe chicken in a dangerous substance.

Tiburon [California], home to fewer than 9,000 people, has proclaimed itself a trans-fat-free town now that its restaurants all use alternative oils. And last year in New York City, the health department asked restaurants to change their ways voluntarily and switch to other oils.

But outlawing the oils altogether is another matter, Chicago’s nervous restaurant owners say. One Chicago pizza establishment, which uses oil with trans fat in its dough, predicted that its costs would leap by $50,000 a year if it used a substitute oil.

“The sad reality is there will be restaurants that will be hurt: your mom-and-pop restaurants and your ethnic restaurants,” said Colleen McShane, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association. “A lot of them cannot afford other types of oils.”

More than that, some asked, did Chicago really intend to entrust Mr. Burke and the other elected leaders with how such a change might affect taste?

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