Local Carry Out Fined for Trans Fats Violation

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Healthy Choice John’s Barbecue, a carry-out restaurant in Lexington Market, was issued the city’s first citation on Oct. 21 for serving food high in trans fats.

The business was fined $100 after the Baltimore City Health Department found trans fat levels exceeding the legal 0.5 grams per serving in their margarine during a random inspection on Oct. 15.

This was the store’s second violation. The first came in July when the health department found margarine with 3 grams of trans fats per serving. The restaurant was issued a warning and was ordered to throw out the product.

Since Sept. 20, 2009, the city has prohibited food facilities from distributing food with high levels of the artificial fat. This law does not pertain to prepackaged foods.

City officials say an establishment’s repeated violation of the trans fats ban can lead to immediate closure of the facility and the suspension of its food license.

“Businesses can make it easier for people to live healthier lives by simply replacing the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil with a healthier alternative,” said Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot.

Trans fats are mostly simulated by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. The combination can have a dangerous effect as it elevates “bad” cholesterol and lowers the “good,” leading to the possibility of heart disease, the No. 1 killer in this country, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Studies show that trans fats are directly responsible for as many as 30,000 premature deaths in the U.S.