Monday, December 04, 2006

Trans Fat to Hit the Fire

Both the NY Daily News and the NY Post are reporting that the NYC Board of Health will vote tomorrow to implement the two proposals that were first introduced at a meeting in late October. The first, which would ban all trans fat in restaurants, received a withering rebuke from local eateries and the Alliance, and it now appears that the ban will get a longer phase-in period to allow the neighborhood restaurants to make the transition more smoothly. We applaud the health commissioner for the change here.

The other proposal, the so-called menu-labeling initiative, appears to be getting the green light without any change; and without any real input from the folks who run these chain restaurants. If the City Council doesn't get involved, and there are indications that it will, this proposal appears headed straight to the courtroom.

The problem with the idea is that it is directed at the 10% of city restaurants that actually provide nutritional information to their customers while exempting the bulk of those that don't. In addition, there is absolutely no indication that this kind of an education will have any resonance with consumers. As we have pointed out, such a radical public health measure, one that would greatly impact on the economics of the industry, should be proceeded by some research that gives some promise of its efficacy.

No studies of this kind, ones that have been peer reviewed and analyzed by non-biased researchers, appear to be out there. In their absence, the city should not be moving forward in this delicate area. In this case we are hopeful that the City Council will intervene with more sensible legislation that would have a better impact on public health education.