Montgomery County Council Votes to Ban Artificial Trans Fats in County Restaurants
Unanimous Council Makes Montgomery First County in the Nation To Move for Elimination of This Major Health Risk
ROCKVILLE, Md., May 15, 2007—The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously today to ban the use of artificial trans fats for most foods sold in County restaurants and at prepared food sections of supermarkets. The trans fats ban, proposed by Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, makes Montgomery the first county in the nation to pass such a ban.
Trans fat increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol. While many consumers are taking steps to eat and shop healthier, restaurants remain a significant source of this major link to obesity and heart disease.
The resolution requires that elimination of trans fats begin on Jan. 1, 2008 for oils, shortenings and margarines with artificial trans fats that are used for frying or in spreads. On Jan. 1, 2009, it would apply for oils and shortenings used for deep frying of yeast dough or cake batter, and all other foods containing trans fat. In some cases, waivers may be granted to Jan. 1, 2010 for prepackaged foods that are sold in restaurants.
“One of the great challenges of 21st Century government emerges from the intersection of science and public policy,” Trachtenberg said. “Giving the public all the information they need to choose healthy eating alternatives is good stewardship of the public trust we hold as elected officials.” A growing number of national and local food establishments have already removed trans fats from their kitchens.
Bethesda-based Marriott International announced this year that it was eliminating trans fats in fried foods and deep frying oils as part of an eight-year effort to remove trans fats from the vast majority of food served at more than 2,300 Marriott International hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada. Chains such as Ruby Tuesday, Legal Seafood, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Au Bon Pain, Panera Bread, California Pizza Kitchen and others have taken similar steps. McDonald’s has found a trans-fat- free oil it will use to prepare French fries beginning in early 2008.
The proposal for the ban was initiated by Trachtenberg in March. Amendments were made by the Council’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Trachtenberg.
The resolution mirrors similar legislation adopted by the New York City Board of Health in December 2006. According to researchers at the Center for the Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), MontgomeryCounty is the first county in the U.S. to take this step.
"Getting artificial trans fat out of restaurants is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways for a city, county or state to save lives and health care dollars," said CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson. "Councilmember Trachtenberg and the rest of the Montgomery County Council should be applauded for boldly protecting the health of the region's restaurant-goers and for setting an example for town councils or state legislatures from coast to coast."