Trans Fat Debate Comes to Florida

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

There’s a food fight brewing at the state Capitol. A bill under consideration would require restaurants to post notices if they serve food containing trans fats.

The goal is to encourage diners to make healthier eating choices, and save the state health care costs in the process. The bill’s getting mixed reviews from the restaurant industry.

Tallahassee’s Lindy’s Chicken may be one of the few fried food joints in Florida that proudly refuses to cook with trans fats.

Owner Ray Salis says it was a health decision.

“I watch the news and I see that trans fats are contributing to cholesterol and things like that so we opted not to.”

Florida lawmakers will consider a bill this spring that would require all restaurants to either go trans fat free like Lindy’s, or post signs warning that their food contains trans fats that can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Not surprisingly, the bill has many other restaurant owners steaming over what they see as government intrusion.

Cragin Mosteller with the Florida Restaurant Association says government doesn’t need to tell business owners how to run their businesses.

“We are seeing chains and restaurants every day trying to remove artificial trans fats from their menu and providing more healthy options.”

But there’s also a cost factor to consider. Six out of 10 Floridians are overweight or obese, and the state is forced to eat $2 billion a year in healthcare costs as a result.

Bill co-sponsor Ari Porth says the issue here is full disclosure.

“People should be able to eat whatever they want, but they should know the risk of what they’re eating.”

And once you know, that salad may not sound so bad after all.

Restaurants could lose their licenses if they fail to post the trans fat disclosure notice as required under the Healthy Dining Act. Lawmakers will take up the bill (SB 1628/HB 309) when the legislative session gets underway in March.

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