Experts, restaurants react to possible trans fat ban in Cleveland

CLEVELAND - If you are a French fry-lover or get a craving for a fried cheese sandwich from your favorite restaurant, there's a chance it might taste different if Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman has his way.

Cimperman announced Tuesday he not only wants to get smoking banned from within 150 feet of any city park, mall or public building, but he also wants restaurants and schools to get rid of cooking with trans fats .

The proposed ordinance would ban foods containing margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and vegetable shorting. The legislation calls for no foods containing artificial trans fat "shall be stored, distributed, held for service, used in preparation of any menu item or served in any food shop."

Cleveland Clinic dietitian Julia Zumpano agrees with the councilman. She said trans fats increase the risk of heart disease by raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. Trans fat are also a food "enhancer," meaning it makes its shelf-life last longer.

"I think it's a great idea. It just shows to consumers and the public how important it is to avoid this. And how unhealthy it truly is. It makes the food companies and the restaurants more accountable for what they are serving," Zumpano said.

The restaurant manager at The Diner on Clifton in Cleveland said it's their business to give customers what they want.

"People are going to eat what they want to eat no matter what. And it looks like it will be a lot more work for us, having to label everything," manager Maureen Szekely said.

Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed said issues like trans fats in foods should take a back seat to other concerns like violence.

"I'm not supporting it because you're not going to have a healthy city, if you don't do something about the violence," Reed said.

Council members will meet Monday at 9:30 a.m. to talk about the smoking and trans fat banning proposals.

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