Bakeries exemption from trans fat ban rejected by Albany County Legislature

My butter cream is my livelihood! exclaimed Rachel Dott, owner of Coccadotts, on Central Avenue in Colonie, on Monday, June 8, urging members of the legislature to vote in favor of an amendment to a law passed last summer that would ban trans fats from all baked goods on July 1.

But despite Dotts plea, the Albany County Legislature rejected the amendment, which was proposed by Minority Leader Christine Benedict, R-Colonie, that would exempt bakeries from the law.

The trans fat ban was introduced by Majority Leader Frank Commisso, D-Albany, in August 2008 as a two-part plan to rid Albany County from trans fat cooking and curb obesity and other related diseases.

The first phase, which took effect June 1, involved taking trans fat out of oils, shortening and margarine that were used in restaurants in the county. The second phase, scheduled to take effect July 1, involved eliminating trans fats from all baked goods.

Many county bakers, including those from Bella Napoli, Schuyler Bakery, Zachary's Bakery and Coccadotts have expressed concern about the ban, saying that they cannot produce their products the same way without the use of trans fats.

Dominic Mainella, owner of Bella Napoli, said he has spent over $9,000 on zero trans fat substitutes to use in his baking, but the product simply does not come out the same.

"There is no direct substitute for vegetable shortening," he said. "[This] will damage our product."

As one baker later explained, shortening is used in a lot of cakes, and, for instance with a wedding cake, if shortening is not used, the cake could melt on a hot day.

Mainella said his customers have seen the difference and complained about the absorption in his donuts and the texture in his danishes.

"For commercial baking, it's very difficult," he said. "People go to a bakery just to treat themselves."

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