February 2, 2009

Pennsylvania urged to ban trans fat

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is urging Pennsylvania's governor to ignore a recommendation opposing banning artificial trans fat in foods.

A task force recommended Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and the state's lawmakers reject a proposed legislative phase-out of the harmful food ingredient.

But CSPI urged the state to adopt the legislation requiring restaurants to phase out artificial trans fat -- the heart-attack-inducing fat that comes from partially hydrogenated oil.

The CSPI said restaurants can easily replace artificial fat with heart-healthy soybean, canola or other vegetable oils, or, in certain baked goods, with solid fats such as butter, palm oil or lard.

Artificial trans fat has been successfully phased out in New York City, with similar measures enacted in California, Boston and Philadelphia.

The report of this task force might have been credible were it written 10 years ago, when the science on trans fat was less certain and the supplies of alternative oils less abundant, said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson in a letter to Rendell. Though several government employees were on the panel, its recommendations almost certainly would have been supportive of public health had bakeries, restaurant lobbyists and other food industry officials not been so overly represented. The line-up reads more like the attendees list for a trade show than an objective task force.