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Chicago City Council Proposes Anti-Trans Fats Ordinance

A report looks at Chicago City Council's anti-fat diet plan, which includes keeping trans fats off of menus and would make Chicago the first major city in the country to limit trans fats.

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  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT, NewsHour Correspondent:

    This sizzling sound makes mouths water and, experts say, arteries clog. That's because the food in this basket is being fried in oil that contains trans fats. Eating too much trans fat can cause heart disease, strokes and obesity.

    That's why Chicago Alderman Edward Burke wants to make it illegal for most restaurants to use cooking oils containing trans fats. If Burke's ordinance passes, Chicago will become the first major city in the country to limit trans fats.

  • EDWARD BURKE, Alderman, Chicago:

    If the restaurants won't voluntarily change their policy and adopt a healthy means of preparation, then I think that it's clear that municipal government has the right to step in and legislate.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Trans fats are manmade by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. These hydrogenated vegetable oils are the oils most often in used in deep-fat frying. Hydrogenation also converts liquid vegetable oil to a semi-solid fat, making it much easier to use in cooking.

    So fried foods aren't the only food chockfull of trans fats. Cookies, crackers, cupcakes, doughnuts, just about anything that benefits from a longer shelf life usually contain trans fats.

    This year, the Food and Drug Administration required all manufacturers to list the trans fat content of their products.

    Nutritionist Bonnie Minsky.

  • BONNIE MINSKY, Nutritionist:

    How old do you think it is?

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    A year?

  • BONNIE MINSKY:

    Twenty-two years old. When we talk about trans fats, the cupcake is still intact. The plastic has totally fallen apart. So this is the problem: These things never, never die. They're not real foods.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    And it stays in your arteries that long, as well?

  • BONNIE MINSKY:

    Exactly. That's the problem. It's not just going in and going out; it staying where it shouldn't be.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Minsky has been warning clients about the dangers of trans fats for years.

  • BONNIE MINSKY:

    The American Academy of Sciences has actually said that there is no safe level of trans fats. There's even a safe level of arsenic. We can eat a certain amount of arsenic without being poisoned. There is no safe level of trans fats.

    So Alderman Burke's proposal could actually save thousands and thousands of lives and billions of dollars in dealing with heart disease in this country, because, once you get a big city like Chicago to ban something like this, you'll see a lot of other big cities following suit.