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Albany County trims the trans-fat

Legislators in Albany County think they have come up with a way to improve residents' health by outlawing the use of a simple ingredient at more than 1,600 food service establishments.

The ingredient, trans-fat, has long been criticized for containing increased levels of LDL, known as bad cholesterol, and lowering HDL, known as "good" cholesterol. Now, Albany County is mandating that all restaurants in the county switch over from using trans-fats in their recipes to various other forms of oils.

According to Kerri Battle, spokeswoman for Albany County Executive Mike Breslin, the resolution to ban trans-fats in the county was introduced by Majority Leader Frank Commisso, D-Albany, and passed unanimously on Friday, Aug. 8, although the Legislature had been discussing it for some time.

"It was introduced and voted on in May of 2007, but it had to go to the Board of Health," she said.

On the passing of the resolution, Commisso said he was pleased with what the county had done. "With this amendment to the county's Sanitary Code, we're simply saying that we know artificial trans-fat clogs arteries and contributes to heart disease and strokes, so let's do what we can to serve healthy meals to our residents," he said.

In regulating the measure, Battle said restaurants will phase out trans-fat in two parts. The first will involve taking trans-fat out of oils, shortening and margarine that are used in cooking, which will begin Jan. 1. The second involves eliminating trans-fat from baked goods, which will begin July 1.

Battle said this will affect chain restaurants in the county, as well as non-chains.

According to Gail Sokol, author of "About Professional Baking" and an adjunct professor and culinary instructor at Schenectady Community College, the transition should not be too tough for chefs as many have already switched over from using trans-fat already.

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