New York City’s ban on trans fats in cooking oils becoming effective July 1 and most fast-food chains say they have already converted to alternative cooking methods.
The change has inspired chains such a Burger King, Carl’s Junior, and KFC to announce they would eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from their fryers nationwide. McDonald’s notes that its transition to new oils has gone unnoticed by customers.
Despite the successful in the new law, the city’s second rule taking effect on Sunday is being challenged. All fast-food restaurants have been ordered to post calorie content on menus, but major chains are ignoring the order in hopes that a lawsuit will overturn the demand.
New York Officials say they do not plan to fine anyone for violating either rule until October 1. Major health advocates applaud the overhaul, especially since NYC has ordered trans fats to be out of all products by next year.
Cooking oil companies are obliging to the rule and have already began production of trans-fat replacements. Restaurant supply distributors are now filling kitchens with alternatives.
Spokesperson Walt Riker noted that the transition has been “absolutely seamless.”
The city has helped the industry in replacing trans fats by setting up a special health line for chefs trying to reform their kitchens. Furthermore, seed and oil companies have aided the switch as well.
David Dzisiak, a cooking oils specialist at Dow AgroSciences, explained the company began investing time and money in zero-trans fat Omega-9 canola and sunflower oils back when the very first studies suggested the harm in consuming trans fats.
"We started on this 10 years ago," he noted. "We now have the capacity to supply over a billion pounds of this oil."
Mat Arnfield, the chef at A Salt & Battery, a poular Manhattan fish and chips shop, said any cooks still complaining about the transition are not concerned with taste.
The primary difference between the trans-fat oils and their alternatives, he said, is cost. His alternative, a blend of corn and canola oils, is slightly more expensive than the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, but the price difference is small.
"If they are cutting corners that much," he said of restaurants disinclined to switch, "I wouldn't really trust those guys to make me a plate of food anyway."
Experts say the new ban on trans fats from all products may be more difficult for manufacturers. Partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings give baked goods like cookies and crackers their texture.
"That is definitely a more challenging environment," said Bill McCullough, a marketing director for St. Louis, Missouri-based Bunge Oils.
Alternatives are available, he said, but culinary researchers are still at work on something that will have the taste and texture of butter or lard and the shelf life of a hydrogenated product high in trans fats.
"We realize as an organization that it is just a matter a time before hydrogenation is gone," he said.