NEW YORK CITY – April 5, 2007 – The Health Department, with a grant from the American Heart Association, launched the Trans Fat Help Center to assist restaurants in switching from artificial trans fat to healthier oils while maintaining the same taste and texture of food. The Help Center offers a telephone help line, classes, and web resources in multiple languages, all at no cost to restaurateurs. The Health Department has teamed up with the New York City College of Technology's (City Tech) esteemed culinary training program to house the Help Center and convene a group of local and national culinary experts to act as technical advisors (see addendum).
The Help Line
Restaurant operators and suppliers can call the Trans Fat Help Line for clarification of the new regulation and for advice on how to adjust recipes. The Help Line is staffed by culinary specialists Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Assistance is also available in Chinese, Spanish, and nearly 150 other languages with interpretation services. If questions cannot be answered immediately, Help Line staff will consult with expert advisors and return the call within two business days. Brochures with specific tips on topics such as frying or baking without artificial trans fat are in development and will be available through the Help Line.
The website features easy-to-use resources, available to restaurants 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Restaurant operators may download "0 grams trans fat" product lists that provide alternatives to products containing artificial trans fat. They may also refer to a "Frequently Asked Questions" section, access information about classes, download a brochure on the new regulations, or link to other web resources.
Classes for Restaurant Operators
Restaurant operators can call to sign up for free classes taught by culinary specialists on cooking and baking without artificial trans fat, as well as classes on trans fat free ethnic cuisine. Classes will be offered monthly, in a variety of locations depending on demand, from June 2007 to December 2008. Most classes will take place in a kitchen classroom, where restaurateurs can sample foods made without artificial trans fat, get tips for reformulating recipes and receive guidance on complying with the regulation.
"We want to make it easy for any restaurant that is still cooking with artificial trans fat to make the switch," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "There are many alternatives to trans fat, and the Help Center will provide guidance and resources. Restaurant operators can call 311 and ask for the Trans Fat Help Line if they have any questions about going trans fat free."
"The American Heart Association applauds the effort by the Health Department to phase out trans fats in restaurants," said Dr. Robert Eckel, the organization's immediate past president. "The Help Center presents a unique opportunity to provide relevant guidance and comprehensive tools to restaurants to encourage the use of healthy alternatives to trans fat."
Timeline for Trans Fat Phase Out
In December 2006, the NYC Board of Health voted to require that restaurants remove artificial trans fat from food.
Beginning July 1, 2007:
Restaurants cannot use trans fat for frying, pan-frying (sautéing), grilling, or as a spread unless product labels or other documents from the manufacturer are kept showing that these ingredients contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Trans fat-containing oils and shortenings may be used for deep frying cake batter or yeast dough until July 1, 2008.
Beginning July 1, 2008:
No food with 0.5 grams or more of trans fat per serving may be stored, used, or served by food service establishments.
There will be a 3-month grace period during which no fines will be assessed for the July 2007 and July 2008 deadline.
The regulation does not apply to food served in the manufacturer's original, sealed packaging, such as a package of crackers or a bag of potato chips.
City Tech's president, Dr. Russell Hotzler, said, "We are very pleased with our partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and to be of service to New Yorkers in providing information, advice and technical assistance on how to replace or eliminate trans fats from what is served in restaurants, bakeries and other establishments. Our students and faculty in hospitality management and throughout the College have a long tradition of public service, and this is a natural involvement for the college of technology of The City University of New York."
The Health Department will continue to offer training at the Health Academy, where food service workers learn about artificial trans fat as part of the required food protection course. As of last month, more than 14,000 people had already learned about trans fat in this course in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.
The Health Department recently sent a mailing to all 32,000 food service establishments in New York City, explaining the new trans fat regulation and answering basic questions. "We also want to remind restaurants that the first deadline for complying with the regulation is approaching," said Elliott Marcus, Associate Commissioner for the Bureau of Food Safety. "Call your suppliers and place your orders now. There are many alternatives for fry oils and margarines, and suppliers can more easily meet your needs if they have a sense of the demand."
The Trans Fat Help Center will also conduct several case studies with individual restaurants to assist in the process of switching to healthier oils, fats, and spreads, such as margarine, in restaurants. The Health Department has invited nominations for case study participants from restaurant associations and community groups, and has conducted outreach to local restaurants for their participation.
Artificial trans fat increases the risk of heart disease and death by increasing bad cholesterol and decreasing good cholesterol in the blood. At present, consumers have no way of knowing whether their food contains trans fat when they dine out. For more information on trans fat, please visit www.nyc.gov/transfat.
Trans Fat Help Center Technical Advisors
New York City College of Technology, Department of Hospitality Management
As the home for the Help Center, City Tech's Department of Hospitality Management is intimately involved in research, staffing, and technical support and instruction for NYC food service operators. For day-to-day expert advice on brochure, website, and class content, the Help Center will rely on assistant professor Elizabeth Schaible and associate professor Louise Hoffman, for their expertise in food service and culinary arts.
City Tech has hired Laura Stanley to coordinate the activities of the Trans Fat Help Center. Stanley is a food media professional and culinary educator with a strong interest in public health, who has held senior-level editorial staff positions at Wine Spectator magazine and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She has professional culinary training from Institute for Culinary Education.
American Heart Association (AHA)
Judith Wylie-Rosett, EdD, RD, Head of Behavioral and Nutritional Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will advise the Help Center on behalf of the AHA. An authority on the role of nutrition in chronic disease prevention and control, Wylie-Rosett has participated as a researcher in numerous clinical trials about heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
American Institute of Baking (AIB)
Brian L. Strouts, Head of Experimental Baking, has worked in the baking industry for over a decade. He is currently responsible for research on bread, cake, cookies, bagels, crackers, doughnuts, and other specialty bakery products.
American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF)
City Tech's Elizabeth Schaible (see above), Vice President on the Executive Board of the AIWF's New York chapter, will help build the AIWF's relationship with the Help Center and coordinate co-sponsored culinary events.
Brooklyn College, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences
Annie Hauck-Lawson, PhD, RD, Brooklyn College Associate Professor, is a leading scholar of New York City's rich culinary heritage. At Brooklyn College, she has long worked with students who are preparing for nutrition careers that require cultural sensitivity.
Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN)
Founder/Director of IIN Joshua Rosenthal, MScEd has worked for over 25 years in the fields of whole foods, personal coaching, curriculum development, teaching and nutritional counseling. For 13 years, the IIN has been delivering leading-edge training in the rapidly expanding field of holistic nutrition.
Les Dames d'Escoffiers (LDEI)
LDEI is an organization of women leaders in food, fine beverage and hospitality. All members, including: Alison Awerbach, Partner, Abigail Kirsch Culinary Productions; Claire Criscuolo, of Claire's Cornucopia vegetarian restaurant; and Susan Purdy, baker and award-winning cookbook author, will provide support.
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU)
Food service industry advisors
As an international leader in the certification of kosher foods and kosher food service establishments, OU is a reliable source of information on the dietary traditions of the city's many Jewish communities. Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld, who is expert in edible fats and oils; Rabbi Abraham Juravel, who heads technical review of product ingredients, and Rabbi Dov Schreier, Rabbinic Coordinator for Food Services will serve as advisors.
Joseph Barbosa, Chef-Consultant, Institute for Urban Family Health
Barbosa consults with the "Bronx Healthy Hearts Restaurant Program," a community outreach effort that encourages restaurants to develop health-minded menus in neighborhoods where residents are at especially high risk of developing heart disease. A Culinary Institute of America graduate and a Bronx-based chef, Barbosa has been active in the non-profit sector for a decade.
Keith Cook, Purchasing Director, Tom Cat Bakery
Cook is a local baking business authority and an excellent source of insights about the city's baking supply network. Cook has expertise in baking for wholesale and retail customers. Before joining Tom Cat, Cook worked for 13 years as a corporate chef in Toronto and Vancouver.
Chris Giarraputo, Executive Chef, B.R. Guest
Giarraputo leads the culinary teams for 15 destination restaurants—including, in New York, the celebrated Ruby Foo's Times Square, Dos Caminos, and Fiamma Osteria. A 20-year veteran with B.R. Guest, he is expert in the business of running successful food service operations and has recently emerged as an advocate for the phasing out of trans fat.
Michael Lomonaco, Executive Chef, Porter House New York, Visiting Distinguished Professor at CUNY
Lomonaco, a celebrity chef both in and outside of New York, is known as much for his culinary accomplishment as his strong record of public service, especially as a founder of the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund. After launching his career at Le Cirque, Lomonaco went on to play leadership roles in the kitchens of 21, Windows on the World, and Noche.
Michael Romano, Chef/Partner, Union Square Café and Blue Smoke
Romano, a City Tech alumnus, is a longtime fixture in the local dining scene, twice honored by the James Beard Foundation, as a Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America inductee (2000) and New York City Best Chef (2001). He joined the Union Square Café in 1988, after working nearly two decades in some of the most distinguished kitchens in New York, Paris, Bordeaux, and Zurich.
Andy Yeung, General Manager, Shun Lee Restaurants
Yeung is well-equipped to handle questions regarding traditional Chinese food and practices in New York's Chinese kitchens. As the longtime general manager at Shun Lee Palace, the city's grande dame of banquet-style Chinese dining, he is the Help Center's link to a celebrated culinary team, and an excellent source of inside information on ingredient-supply networks within the Chinese food community.