(Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/file)
By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff
Boston health regulators today unanimously approved a ban on artery-clogging trans fat in restaurants and grocery stores.
Boston joins a growing number of cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Brookline, in banning the food ingredient, commonly found in french fries, donuts and other fried foods. Trans fat have been linked to heart disease in humans and diabetes in experimental animals.
The first phase of the ban goes into effect in September and will apply to the use of cooking oils, shortening and margarine that contains artificial trans fat. The makers of baked goods will have a year to eliminate trans fat from their products.
Packaged goods clearly labeled as containing trans fat can still be sold. Most major manufacturers have already removed trans fat from their products.
The Boston prohibition would include all restaurants, including school and hospital cafeterias, as well as food that is prepared in kitchens inside groceries and delis.
City inspectors will visit businesses to make sure they comply with the ban, and scofflaws could face fines of up to $1,000 for each violation.
Studies estimate that having as few as 40 calories of trans fat a day can boost the risk of a heart attack by 23 percent. A fast-food meal of chicken nuggets and French fries, if prepared with artificial trans fat, can easily contain more than 100 calories of the substance.
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