Boston Outlaws Use of Trans Fat

Oreos and doughnuts vacate the Bostonian culinary landscape

While students scrutinized the free ice cream options at J.P. Licks yesterday, restaurants in Boston were examining their menus, working to comply with the city-wide ban on trans fats that went into effect on Saturday—a path that the Cambridge city government has been considering for well over a year too.

Trans fats, typically found in foods like Oreos, doughnuts, and French fries, can no longer be used in food establishments in Boston. Nearly 6,000 restaurants are affected and face up to $1,000 in fines if they disobey, according to the Boston Globe.

In an interview with The Crimson yesterday afternoon, State Senator Edward M. Augustus, Jr., a Worcester Democrat, praised the city-wide ban aimed at addressing a general public health concern. He said he supported the initial call for a state-wide prohibition but was “happy Boston moved ahead on its own.”

Over the past four years, Harvard University Dining Services has been decreasing its use of trans fats in its offerings. In the fall of 2007, HUDS completely eliminated trans fats from its menu.

Debates about implementing a similar ban in Cambridge have yet to reach a conclusion. Several restaurants, including Grafton Street and b. good, already prepare their meals without trans fats.

B. good’s General Manager Mike Mendez said that foregoing trans fats improves taste and lowers costs, as restaurants do not need to buy frying oils.

Grafton Street’s executive chef Matthew Richey said he also believes meals without trans fats offer an improved dining experience. “Personally, I really dislike the flavor of trans fats. They leave a residue in the mouth.”

But Richey was still ambivalent about whether the state should impose a ban. “Even though I don’t use trans fats myself, I am still uncomfortable with the government legislating what we can or cannot eat.”

Richey alluded to recent bans on foie gras in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles. The French delicacy remains controversial because geese and ducks are force-fed to enlarge their liver.

Augustus co-sponsored a similar state ban on foie gras in Massachusetts, but the issue has yet to gain sufficient traction.

Students at Harvard said they were concerned that the ban could increase menu prices at local eateries.

“I’m not sure if it’s right if people had to pay more money,” Jane C. Xie ’12 said.