Small bakeries could be exempted from proposed trans fat ban
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois senators are considering a bill banning artificial trans fats in Illinois foods, but lawmakers already are discussing exemptions to the proposal.
HB1600 would ban artificial trans fats in food sold in Illinois by January 1, 2013, including food sold in school vending machines. Government-run cafeterias would have until 2016 to ban the substance.
The Senate Public Health Committee adopted one change Tuesday that would exempt some baked goods and pastries from the ban. However, other exemptions will be considered before the bill is put before the full Senate for a final vote.
“We’re trying to fine-tune it,” said Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, the Senate sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, suggested an exemption also be made for food service operations run by organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“These are small organizations that have been in place for 50 years,” Syverson said. “It (a ban) will create the same problem that bakeries are facing.”
Trans fats are thought to play a role in a wide variety of health woes, including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, strokes and diabetes. The food industry, however, uses trans fats because they can add to the shelf life of food and also enhance flavor.
The exemption adopted by the committee Tuesday is specifically aimed at small, family-owned bakeries, said Sen. William Delgado, D-Chicago.
John Roeser III, owner of Roeser’s Bakery in Chicago, said that if artificial trans fats are banned, small bakeries will be at a competitive disadvantage to industrial bakeries. For some bakery products, like icing, there is no acceptable substitute for trans fats, he said.
“On a day like today, when it’s 92 degrees, if you aren’t using trans fats (in icing), your wedding cake is not getting to the hall,” he said. “It will melt.”
Roeser said people should be allowed to consume products containing trans fats if that is their decision.
“Anything in moderation is not going to kill you,” he said. “If you eat a dozen donuts a day, it’s not going to matter whether I fry them in trans fat oil or I fry them in lard or I fry them in tallow. It’s not going to be good for you.”
Roeser said he will listen to what his customers want.
“If my customers want me to go trans fat free, I’m going to do everything I can to get there,” Roeser said.
When the bill was approved by the House, it contained no exemptions. Any changes made by the Senate will have to be approved by the House if the bill is to go to the governor.
Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.