McKinney, Roraback File Legislation to Ban Trans Fats in Connecticut Restaurants

December 21, 2006

Modeled after New York City ban, measure would reduce risk of heart disease, save lives

Hartford, CT – Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and Senator Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen), ranking Senate member on the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee, today filed legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in Connecticut restaurants.

The proposal follows several scientific studies linking trans fats to coronary heart disease and the New York City Board of Health’s recent decision to ban the harmful food ingredient from New York City restaurants.

“By forcing some of the world’s largest food chains and restaurateurs to use healthier alternatives in their food preparation, New York City has paved the way for what I hope will be a national movement to improve the health quality of the food we eat in restaurants,” said Senator McKinney. “Trans fats contribute to heart disease and are particularly harmful to children. I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to seize this opportunity and vote to remove this harmful ingredient from our restaurants.”

The proposed legislation, modeled after the New York City ban, will require Connecticut restaurants to end the use of most frying oils containing trans fats by January ‘08 and to eliminate all artificial trans fats from their food by July ‘08. Foods sold in sealed manufacturer’s packaging, such as potato chips, will not be affected by the ban. The legislation will also call for a public awareness campaign to educate people about the harmful effects of trans fats and to promote the efforts of restaurants quickest to comply with the new regulations.

“Education, nutrition and disease prevention must be a part of any serious debate about health care reform in Connecticut,” said Senator Roraback. “Research indicates we can immediately and significantly improve public health by taking this potentially deadly ingredient off the menu in Connecticut restaurants.”
The Harvard School of Public Health’s report on trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease states:

“By our most conservative estimate, replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the U.S. diet with natural unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent approximately 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year, and epidemiologic evidence suggests this number is closer to 100,000 premature deaths annually.”

Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are commonly found in restaurant foods such as French fries, pizza and pancakes, as well as commercially baked products including cookies, cakes and crackers. While FDA labeling requirements provide limited protection to consumers at retail, in most restaurants there is no way of knowing whether or not the food you consume contains trans fats.

Several restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Taco Bell and Dunkin’ Donuts have already begun the process of reducing or eliminating the use of trans fats in their food preparation.