Cleveland City Council Considering a Ban on Trans Fat in Restaurants

Cleveland City Council is weighing a proposal that would ban the sale of any prepared food containing artificial trans fat. The ordinance was introduced Monday evening by Councilman Joe Cimperman, who is also pushing an ordinance that would ban smoking outdoors in city-owned and city-operated areas.

The ordinance says that 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." There is just one exception -- food served in the manufacturer's original sealed package.

Items with trans fat are defined as those that contain: vegetable shortening, margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. A food item must contain at least 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving in order to be considered a banned food item.

If the legislation were passed into law, restaurants would need to keep original food labels on file that show how much trans fat is present in food items. Shops would need to obtain documentation from food manufacturers about trans fat content for food products without food labels.

A two-thirds vote would be needed to pass the ordinance. If passed, it would go into effect on January 1, 2013 for trans fat containing oils, shortenings and margarines, and July 1, 2013 for trans fat oils and shortenings used to deep fry yeast dough or cake batter. This would give food shops enough time to prepare for the changes.

Cleveland's Health and Human Services Committee will discuss the trans fat ban and the outdoor smoking ban at its meeting to be be held on April 11.