Trans Fat Ban On Baked Goods Begins

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Starting Thursday, March 12, Boston bakeries must comply with the ban on artificial trans fat as the second phase of the city’s efforts to eliminate partially hydrogenated oil from food and beverages goes into effect, the Boston Public Health Commission said today.

Bakeries had been given six additional months to eliminate trans fat from their menus while other food service establishments were required to stop using trans fatty acids last September.

The new ban means that bakeries and similar food service establishments may no longer use oils, shortening, or margarines containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the preparation of baked goods, deep fried dough, and cake batter. Businesses found to be in violation will receive a citation and a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000. However, those businesses not in compliance will be allowed to appeal to the Public Health Commission for an extension of up to six months.

“There are no health benefits and no level of consumption of artificial trans fat that is considered safe,’’ said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Public Health Commission. “In fact public health research over the past 20 years has shown that trans fatty acids significantly contribute to heart disease and other health problems.’’

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Boston is the first city in Massachusetts to implement a ban on trans fats. Brookline was the first to pass a ban, but implemented it after Boston. Cambridge has passed a similar trans fat ban that will go into effect in July; Massachusetts legislators are also considering a statewide ban.

Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, raise the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body and lower the good (HDL) cholesterol. Consuming trans fat can increase one’s risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It can also put people at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

In March 2008, Boston’s Board of Health approved the trans fat ban, requiring 5,600 food service establishments to eliminate oils, shortenings, and margarines containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil for frying, sauteing, grilling, or as a spread.

Those businesses were checked for compliance by Boston’s Inspectional Service Department during the agency’s routine inspection of food service establishments. All establishments are in compliance with the ban.

The trans fat ban does not apply to food or beverage served in the manufacturer’s original sealed package, such as a package of cookies or a bag of potato chips. It also does not apply to food or beverage items that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

To help with compliance, the Commission has been working with food service establishments to help them modify recipes and locate distributors who can provide alternative products that don’t contain trans fat.

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