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Navigating the Trans-fat Ban

Now that Montgomery County has become the first county in the nation to ban trans fat, it's up to restaurant owners, such as Gene Wilkes of the Tastee Diner in Bethesda and Silver Spring, to figure out how to make it work.

"You have to have shortening for a pie crust," he explained. "The market is not ready to supply that unless they go back to animal fat again."

Also on the no-no list: biscuit mix, packaged pastries, breaded products such as chicken tenders, purchased items such as lemon meringue pie.

But Wilkes knows it's the future--the ban takes effect for restaurants in January--and is working to adjust.

"I probably used about 150 pounds of margarine a week prior to this. We are changing to butter," which he said costs about four times as much. The increase in prices on his menu, he said, "will be dimes and quarters."

"I think it can be done. We'll all live."

Still, he said he resented the council making health decisions. "I am not sure anyone making this decision is sharp enough to know what is best here for us in the county."

Montgomery's measure follows similar legislation in New York and Philadelphia, which ordered trans fats where trans fats will be removed from restaurant menus this year and next. In Montgomery, religious establishments, schools, and grocery store delis are subject to the county's regulation, as well.

Miranda Spivack

By Phyllis Jordan  |  May 16, 2007; 6:43 AM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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