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NEW YORK -- The New York City Board of Health here unanimously voted to ban the use of high-cholesterol trans fats in restaurants, becoming the first city in the United States to enact such a prohibition. Eateries will be required to stop using frying oils with artificial trans fats by July 2007 and must remove trans fats from all of their offerings by July 2008.
Although the restaurant industry protested that such a ban was unfair and unneeded, fast-food giants McDonald's, KFC, and Taco Bell prepared for the impending change by developing alternatives to trans fats, and said they will be ready to roll them out when the measure takes effect. Wendy's began using oil with no trans fats in August.
Kraft and some other major food manufacturers have discontinued using trans fats as well, in the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's new requirement for companies to reveal trans fat content on their labels.
The board also voted that restaurants that elect to inform patrons about calorie content must list the information on the menu, a move that the industry says will cause more restaurants not to offer such information.
Restaurants will still be permitted to serve foods that come in the makers' original packaging even if those foods contain trans fats.
According to the FDA, the average American eats an estimated 4.7 pounds of trans fats annually.
Chicago is currently mulling a trans fat that would strictly limit the amount that large restaurants -- those with over $20 million in yearly sales -- can use in preparing foods.