Baltimore City
Health Department

Trans Fat Ban For Food Service Facilities

Trans Fats - FAQ:

nutrition facts

What are Trans Fats?

Trans fats are a type of fat that both elevates LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that causes heart disease and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol that works to clear more dangerous than saturated fat, cholesterol and other similar substances. 

Studies have indicated that trans fat is responsible for at least 30,000 premature deaths in the United States per year.

The major source of dietary trans fat is found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (PHVO). You can tell if you are using PHVO by reading the ingredients list or the Nutrition Facts label. By simply replacing your use of PHVO in your food establishment with a healthier alternative, you will be assisting your customers in living a healthier life. 

Where Do Trans Fats Come From?

Most trans fats are artificial fats that are created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. This process is called hydrogenation, which is used to increase shelf life and flavor stability of foods. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat - about 80% - is formed when food manufacturers convert liquid oils into stiffer and harder fats such as shortening and hard margarine. The remaining 20% is found naturally and in small amounts, primarily in dairy products, some meats and other animal-based foods. (As a note, naturally occurring trans fat is consumed much less than its artificially-created counterpart. Therefore, it is not as much of a public health concern.)

What Kinds of Foods Contain Trans Fats?

Manufacturers add trans fats to many types of foods.  Some of the most common food products with high levels of trans fats include:

  • Some vegetable shortenings
  • Some margarines
  • Some baked goods such as crackers, cookies, bread, cakes and pies
  • Some snack foods such as potato chips, corn chips and popcorn
  • Foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils, i.e. some donuts, french fries and fried chicken.

How Can I Tell Whether a Food Contains Trans Fats?

Since January 1, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has required the listing of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel on all food labels. The amount of trans fat in a product is listed under saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts panel. Food manufacturers are allowed to list amounts of trans fat with less than 0.5 gram per serving as 0 (zero) on the panel with a footnote stating that the food is “not a significant source of trans fat.” You can also determine whether trans fat is in a product by reviewing the ingredient list. If you find the term “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” you can conclude that there is trans fat in that product.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you consume 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. That's less than 2 grams of trans fats a day.

How Will Reducing Trans Fats Impact the Health of Customers?

The Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition found that eliminating trans fats from the U.S. food supply could prevent up to 1 in 5 heart attacks and related deaths. On a national scale, a quarter of a million heart attacks and related deaths could be prevented each year in the United States.

What are Two Simple Steps to Eliminate the Use of Trans Fats in My Food Service Facility?

First, check the ingredients of your cooking oils to determine if the words “partially hydrogenated” are listed. If so, switch your cooking and frying oils to those without trans fat.

Second, review the ingredients of your other food products, especially baked goods, to determine if trans fats are present in these products. If trans fat is present in these products, talk to your vendors and request that they provide trans fat free equivalents of these products.

Will Food Taste as Good Without Trans Fats?

Yes! Switching to a heart-healthy oil will not change the taste of foods and has no significant increase in cost. PHVO is replaceable with healthier alternatives such as traditional mono and poly unsaturated vegetable oil (e.g. canola, corn, olive, etc.) that have not been hydrogenated.  Newly developed oils such as soybeans, safflowers and sunflowers are also heart-healthy options. 

How Will the Ban be Enforced?

Please click here to read our enforcement policy.


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