Yesterday the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene held a public hearing about banning trans fats in city restaurants. Overall, most people said it was a good thing, with health and diet experts noting the "historic nature of these hearings" and that 22% of heart-related deaths are due to trans fats consumption.

However, there was opposition - and not just from fast food restaurants. The Food Bank for New York City pointed out that banning trans fats limit what food they accept from donations (trans fats help stabilize foods for a longer shelf life). New York City Clash, which protested the smoking ban, told the Post, "The next thing they're going to ban is eggs Benedict. Eliminating choice through coercive behavior is not the American way." Others were concerned that some restaurants wouldn't be able to afford to switch or wouldn't be able to switch in time.

Right before the hearing, Kentucky Fried Chicken announced in a press conference that it would stop using trans fats in their cooking and would be switching to soybean oil. The Daily News asked five people how the new trans fat-free fried chicken tasted; most of the reaction was positive (less greasy and tastes pretty much the same) but one person noted it wasn't as moist. KFC is still working on finding trans fat free recipes for their other items - biscuits, gravies, etc.

The other topic discussed was the proposal for fat food restaurants to display the caloric values of various dishes. Naturally, the fast food restaurant chains complained, noting that they already offer caloric information and cited difficulties in accounting for "too many combinations of seasonings and ingredients," as the NY Times reported. But the Health Commissioner said that proposal was for median caloric values, which should be do-able.

You can read and comment upon on the trans fat ban proposal (PDF) as well as the calorie information-on-menus proposal (PDF). The Health Department also has information on trans fats and heart disease and calorie intake and obesity.

Photograph of KFC President Gregg Dedrick announce the trans fat-free fried chicken by Bebeto Matthews/AP