City files lawsuit against the State in trans fat debate - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

City files lawsuit against the State in trans fat debate

You don't always know where they are, but the City of Cleveland wants to make sure trans fats, proven dangerous to your health, will no longer be found in city restaurant by banning them.

"This is so important, so urgent, such a crisis that we need to act now," said Mayor Frank Jackson.

But not so fast, now the state banning the city from making such a ban on that bad, but some would argue tasty stuff.

And that is not going well.

"Once again we see our city powers being attacked by Columbus," said Ward 5 Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland.

With that, city leaders announcing a lawsuit against the State, basically saying you can't tell us what we can tell our restaurants, something called home rule in the state constitution.

Karen Butler, Director of the Department of Public Health adds, "Trans fats are not essential to heath, they do not promote good health and they increase the risk of chronic diseases.  The cost to the economy of chronic diseases is astronomical."

Meantime, the Ohio Restaurant Association is denouncing Cleveland City Council's frivolous lawsuit telling Clevelanders what to eat in reacting to a lawsuit filed by the Cleveland City Council, the Ohio Restaurant Association believes that people don't need food nannies to oversee what they eat - they can choose to make decisions based on their own dietary needs.

At a time when cities are facing budget shortfalls, doesn't it make more sense for council members to focus on passing laws that fight crime, improve their city's infrastructure and provide their citizens with access to more jobs?

The Ohio Restaurant Association and the restaurant industry as a whole have long been committed to promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Whether it was low-fat, fat-free, low carbohydrate, high fiber or low sugar, restaurants have created hundreds of menu items to meet consumers' needs. Menus and product formulations continue to change and evolve with current science.

However, there is a clear national trend among some activists to persuade local governments to enact ordinances that attempt to tell restaurants what food they can serve, how to describe their menu items, and even how to advertise their business to the public. When they passed Ordinance No. 474-11, the Cleveland City Council became a part of this disturbing trend.
The ORA believes that laws governing the restaurant industry are best made at the state level instead of a patchwork of laws that would invariably differ from one city to the next.

The council's own action proves our point. They specifically exempted food cooked in trans fats that are "served directly to patrons in a manufacturer's original sealed package". Why? The council understood how unreasonable it would be to expect a national food manufacturer to use one recipe for its products sold in Cleveland and another for products sold in Chagrin Falls, Lake County or even a neighboring state. This is exactly the reason that restaurants don't want Ohio cities enacting their own unique ordinances.

The use of oils with trans fats was abandoned by most restaurateurs years ago. All of the major chain restaurants have removed trans fat from their food supply. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, overall synthetic trans fatty acid levels in the U.S. food supply have decreased dramatically since 2006.

The message is clear. The industry responded to consumer demand to reduce and eliminate trans fat from the food supply without a government mandate. The Cleveland City Council's lawsuit is a solution in search of a problem and yet another example of needless government intervention.

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