Monday, October 23, 2006

Trans Fat Ban Questioned

In today's NY Post the paper writes on the difference of opinion between Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Daley of Chicago on the issue of trans fat. In an interview with PBS Daley told the viewers that if we banned the substance we'd all soon, "be eating carrots and tofu."

The Post also points out that while the National Academies' Institute of Medicine found that there were no safe levels of trans fat a ban on it would be "impractical" because trans fats are in so many different types of food. The NYC Department of Health is holding a hearing next Monday on a proposal to ban trans fat.

Our concern at the Alliance is not related to the scientific underpinning of the proposed ban. We're more worried about the impact that the proposal will have on the city's neighborhood restaurants, many of whom, at least according to our initial inquiries, haven't even heard of the ban. Don't forget, the city has thousands of restaurant owners who are not English fluent and whose primary source of information is the non-English media.

We'd like to see the proposal go through a more thorough vetting process whereby the DOH conducts a full "environmental review" of the proposal, one that would gauge the level of trans fat use in the boroughs' eateries as well as the cost of eliminating the substance for the businesses that are impacted.

This kind of process, needless to say, is better when coordinated with the legislative review procedures of the City Council- where a full set of hearings is conducted and where restaurant owners are given the chance to talk directly to the elected officials that represent their neighborhoods. The Council should press the mayor to collaborate here so that this proposal doesn't unfairly impact struggling neighborhood entrepreneurs.