Baltimore Hands Out First Trans Fat Citation
The Health Department issued Healthy Choice, a food facility in the 400 block of Lexington Street, a $100 fine on Thursday.
“It was the second time they were found with a high trans fat level in their ingredients,” said Health Department agent Juan Gutierrez.
Officials said that during inspections in July and this month, the facility was found to be using a margarine product with trans fat levels in excess of what the law allows.
The law banning food facilities from serving or selling non-prepackaged food items containing 0.5 grams or more of trans fats went into effect in September 2009.
“While we are pleased with the high rates of compliance we’ve seen since the ban took effect, we will continue to sanction businesses that repeatedly fail to comply.” – Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of Health
“They originally had a margarine that was above 3 grams, actually, which is very high compared to the. 5 that is allowed. Then when we came back and they had replaced it, they replaced it with one that was 2 grams, so it still was too high,” Gutierrez said.
The facility discarded the products in both instances, health officials said. “I think they’re doing it right. They’re doing what they have to do,” Healthy Choice owner Ki Jeong said. Jeong said he will abide by the decision but said the new margarine will cost him double what the original type costs.
Trans fats are artificial fats that are known to elevate bad cholesterol and cause heart disease, according to health officials. Studies have indicated that trans fats are responsible for as many as 30,000 premature deaths in the U. S. each year.
The city said it has worked with bakeries to come up with alternatives to using trans fats. “While we are pleased with the high rates of compliance we’ve seen since the ban took effect, we will continue to sanction businesses that repeatedly fail to comply,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
The Health Department said more than 100 Baltimore restaurants have received warnings since the ban went into effect.
Agents said that if restaurants don’t make changes after a citation is issue, the establishment could be shut down.