Mass. Voters Favor Ridding Restaurants of Artificial Trans Fat

Bill Would Phase Out Use of Partially Hydrogenated Oils in Bay State

February 19, 2008

BOSTON—Two-thirds of Massachusetts voters are concerned about heart-attack-promoting artificial trans fat and favor a bill to phase it out of the state’s restaurants, according to a new 7News/Suffolk University poll . Only 24 percent of those surveyed opposed phasing out artificial trans fat—meaning the partially hydrogenated oils sometimes used for deep-frying and baking. A whopping 81 percent say that restaurants that still use the discredited ingredient should disclose that fact on menus.

Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham), the co-chairman of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, would require Bay State dining establishments to replace most of the partially hydrogenated oils with any of the widely available natural oils.

“The tide is definitely turning toward the use of healthier cooking oils, with many restaurants voluntarily making the switch to healthier alternatives,” Koutoujian said. “This poll demonstrates that Massachusetts residents understand that by forgoing the use of artificial trans fats, we can live healthier lives without negatively affecting the taste of many foods.”

Similar measures have passed in Brookline, Mass., as well as in New York City, Philadelphia, and other cities and counties. “Massachusetts has the opportunity to be the first state in the country to protect its citizens’ health by removing this one uniquely harmful and unnecessary ingredient from restaurant food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Many big chains have already either eliminated or sharply reduced their use of artificial trans fat, and of course, many small family-owned businesses never used it to begin with. Getting rid of trans fat would be an easy and inexpensive way to simultaneously save lives and health-care dollars.”

Artificial trans fat is more dangerous than any other fat in food since, like saturated fat, it raises one’s LDL, the “bad” kind of cholesterol that promotes heart disease, and lowers one’s HDL, the “good” kind of cholesterol that guards against heart disease. Federal rules now require trans fat to be listed on food labels, a move that has spurred most large manufacturers to switch oils. Rep. Koutoujian’s bill, like others pending around the country, only applies to the trans fat that comes from artificial sources, and not the small amounts that occur naturally in some foods.

The 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll was conducted Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, and surveyed a total of 800 likely voters.


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