Trans fat ban ordinance proposed for prepared food in Cleveland

CLEVELAND - In an effort to improve the health of people in Cleveland, city council is considering an ordinance that will ban the sale of any prepared food containing artificial trans fat.

The ordinance was introduced at a meeting Monday night by Councilman Joe Cimperman, who is also sponsoring an ordinance to ban smoking outdoors in city-owned and city-operated areas .

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." The only exception to this proposal is food served in the manufacturer's original sealed package.

The proposed ordinance defines foods with trans fats as items containing these ingredients:
- Vegetable shortening
- Margarine
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

However, a food must contain at least 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving in order to be deemed a banned food item.

The ordinance cites prepared food as a major source of trans fat.

"A significant portion of dietary trans fat comes from food purchased at food shops, the presence of artificial trans fat purchased at such establishments contributes to cardiovascular risk in Cleveland," the ordinance stated.

Also, if passed, food shops would have to keep original food labels on file that show the amount of trans fat present in food items. For products without food labels, shops would have to obtain documentation from food manufacturers about the trans fat contents.

Should council approve this measure with a two-thirds vote, it is slated to take effect on January 1, 2013 for trans fat-containing oils, shortenings and margarines used for frying or in spreads, and on July 1, 2013 for trans fat oils and shortenings used for deep frying of yeast dough or cake batter.

The Health and Human Services Committee plans to talk about both this proposed ban and the outdoor smoking ordinance at its meeting on April 11.

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