New York City's Board of Health has banned trans-fats in roughly 24,000 Big Apple restaurants.
After the city's Board of Health proposed it back in September, most political analysts and industry experts thought the ban was inevitable.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the city is not giving operators enough time to adjust to the mandate.
"The Board of Health shows an ignorance of the challenges New York's 24,000 restaurants will face in trying to eliminate trans-fat and may well take a step backward for public health," the NRA said in a statement.
The city says it has tweaked the original proposal to take into account restaurant industry concerns. For instance, restaurants have 18 months instead of six to get trans-fat out of their foods. Additionally, health inspectors won't operators for violations cited in the three months following the mandate's enactment. Violations also won't prevent them from passing basic sanitation inspections.
"The Board of Health and the National Restaurant Association have the same goal — to move away from trans-fat in oils and products consumed in restaurants," the NRA said. "The National Restaurant Association has attempted to work with the New York City Board of Health, but the Board seems determined to work against the industry. Both proposals are examples of well-intentioned, misguided social engineering."
A Dow AgroSciences study found that 87 percent of restaurant owners would change frying oils if they knew it could decrease trans-fats and saturated fats without compromising taste or cost.
Many restaurant chains have already made the switch no trans-fat cooking oils. Arby's, Culver's, Wendy's, KFC and Taco Bell have announced in the past year that they will no longer be using partially hydrogenated oils. Arby's went as far as to work with its fry supplier to eliminate the use of hydrogenated oil during the par-frying process at the supplier level.
These voluntarily efforts, the NRA says, should be reason enough for New York's politicians to back off.
"There are serious legal concerns about a municipal health agency banning a product or ingredient the Food and Drug Administration has already approved," the NRA said. "This is a farm-to-table issue. It takes time to develop, plant, grow, harvest and process new alternative crops and to test new oils. Because of this supply problem, with such a limited timetable, many of the city's restaurateurs will have no choice but to switch to oils high in unhealthful saturated fats, a move opposed by health advocacy groups."
The irony of this ban, some say, is that a few years ago trans-fats were supposed to be healthy.
Deborah Dowdell, president of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, said trans-fats were offered as a better option five years ago when health officials encouraged restaurants to cut out saturated fat. Now, these officials are coming after trans-fat.
"What's next? Don't sell ice cream?" Dowdell told the New Jersey Herald. "Is this really the way to cure the ills of society?"