Legal and Policy Resources on Public Health "Winnable Battles"
Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential to human health, do not promote good health, and increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Trans fats are added during food processing to keep food fresh longer while on grocery shelves. The increased risk of heart disease has led several jurisdictions to reduce or eliminate trans fats from use in restaurants and schools. The United States Food and Drug Administration requires trans fat to be listed on food labels. The availability of substitute oils for cooking and food manufacturing permit banning trans fat without hardships for restaurant food manufacturers.
Background Information on Artificial Trans Fat
- Trans fats were created by chemists using a food process known as hydrogenation where liquid oils are converted into solid fats. Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils were intended to replace saturated fats which were found to contribute to heart disease.
- Mayo Clinic
- When introduced, it was believed that artificial trans fats were a viable healthy alternative to saturated fats. However, scientific research has proven that artificial trans fats directly increase the risk of coronary heart disease, raise low density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol,” and lowers high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol.”
- The CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity provides a website on the trans fat topic that includes basic consumer information and links to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Rule Making and Policy Statements
- United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- On July 11, 2003 the FDA published a final rule in the Federal Register that amended its regulations on food labeling to require that artificial trans fat be listed on the nutrition label of conventional foods and dietary supplements (68 FR 41434) The rule went into effect on January 1, 2006.
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- In November 2008, the American Medical Association announced it had adopted a policy supporting legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) List of Local Trans Fat Bans
- Several cities in the United States and local health departments have enacted statutes or promulgated rules or regulations prohibiting the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants. The CSPI maintains a web page that identifies the cites with a artificial trans fat ban in restaurants and the population directly affected.
- New York City
- The first jurisdiction to eliminate the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants in the United States was New York City (NYC)(Section 81.08 of the New York City Health Code). The NYC Board of Health voted to phase out artificial trans fats from restaurants in December 2006, but the implementation and enforcement of the regulation provided for an 18-month phase in period.
- NYC also provides a compliance guide for restaurants, caterers, mobile food-vending units and others to insure New York City food service establishments are aware of the artificial trans fat ban.
- In 2009, Philadelphia amended Title 6 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Health Code,” by prohibiting the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and other food service establishments, under certain terms and conditions. The total ban is on the use of trans fat in “restaurants, grills, diners, sandwich shops, dining rooms of hotels, coffee shops, cafeterias, taverns, market stalls, vending carts, vending vehicles and other similar places.” The following link takes the reader to the Philadelphia Code, Chapter 6, Section 300 titled “Food.” Scroll down to Section 307 for the provision related to the trans fat ban.
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) List of State Trans Fat Statutes
- Last updated in October 2009, the NCSL web site indicates there are 29 states that have considered legislation to limit or ban artificial trans fats in various locations including restaurants and schools. California and Vermont have pioneered statewide artificial trans fat bans in restaurants, but many other states have proposed similar legislation, proposed or enacted artificial trans fat bans in schools, reduced artificial trans fat use in schools to less than 0.5 grams per serving or enacted legislation to review the economic impact of an artificial trans fat ban at the state level. NCSL maintains a web page with current data about proposed and enacted artificial trans fat legislation.
- The statewide California artificial trans fat ban began on January 1, 2010, prohibiting oil, shortening, or margarine containing specified trans fats for specified purposes, from being stored, distributed, or served by, or used in the preparation of any food within, a food facility. Beginning January 1, 2011, the California artificial trans fat ban will prohibit any food containing artificial trans fat, from being stored, distributed, or served by, or used in the preparation of any food within, a food facility. The bill would exempt from these prohibitions specified public school cafeterias and food sold or served in a manufacturer’s original, sealed package.
DISCLAIMER: Information available on this website that was not developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not necessarily represent any CDC policy, position, or endorsement of that information or of its sources. The information contained on this website is not legal advice; if you have questions about a specific law or its application you should consult your legal counsel.