In just a few hours-- the trans fat showdown begins in The Big Apple when the New York City Health Department issues its vote on eliminating them from city restaurants. CNBC’s Mary Thompson "cut through the fat" to give the details on “Squawk Box.”
The meeting begins at 10 a.m. ET, so word should come sometime this afternoon, whether NYC’s restaurants will need to cross trans fats off their menus over the next 18 months.
Trans fats are made when hydrogen's added to vegetable oil, extending its shelf life and improving its taste. Some common examples, shortening and margarine. Common food sources of trans fats include cookies, cakes and crackers and fried foods.
This would mean big changes for New York City's 26,000 restaurants, though some fast food chains including Wendys , Ruby Tuesdays and KFC are already or are going trans fat free.
Over the last couple of years, there's been a growing outcry over trans fats which raise bad cholesterol levels. This can lead to heart disease, the number one killer in this country, and is linked to obesity and diabetes.
Peter Vallone, the Chairman of the New York City Public Safety Committee advocates the changes and explained his position today to CNBC’s Joe Kernan. Vallone says people have trans fats unknowingly in their foods--and he called them poison.
But should the government have the authority to regulate what goes into food?
Vallone says we mandate seat belts and alcohol and the government should get involved when there is a public health concern. He said it should have happened at the Federal level, but it hasn’t, so the city has to take action and protect the citizens.
Richard Lipsky-- President of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance which represents 10,000 NYC neighborhood retailers opposes the change. His group and others who oppose the new regulations--say they believe the choice of whether or not (restaurants) should be trans fat free should be left to the restaurants.
They are also worried that should trans fats be banned--it would put a squeeze suppliers of transfat free oils and goods, driving up costs for restaurant owners.