Metro asks New Yorkers for a trans fat taste test

Coty Wardwell, 21, preferred the New Jersey-cooked chicken. "I think it has a little more flavor, maybe it’s the fat," he said. "I don't know."

Can your taste buds really taste a 2.4-gram difference?

New Yorkers say yes — and in a random sampling, two out of three city residents said they preferred Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s way of cooking.

Metro asked locals if they preferred chicken fried in city kitchens, which restrict trans fats, or across the river in New Jersey, which does not have a similar ban. Two out of three preferred the city-cooked chicken.

A study that was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal stated that since New York City banned using more than 0.5 gram of trans fat per serving, the average amount of trans fats in lunchtime meals has dropped.

Some critics were concerned that, with the implementation of the 2007 ban, restaurants would replace the trans fat with another type of fat. But Monday’s study shows that that did not appear to happen.

Between 2007, when the city started phasing out trans fat use, and 2009, the amount of trans fat in an average New Yorker’s fast food lunch decreased by 2.4 grams, according to the study.

The data shows that when New Yorkers stopped at burger joints or Mexican restaurants for lunch, they were typically chowing down on fewer trans fats.

“What have we learned from NYC’s trans fat ban?” Alice Lichtenstein at Tufts University wrote in an editorial about the survey. “Public health measures work.”

Researchers attributed the decrease to new menu offerings, like grilled chicken instead of fried, rather than smaller portion sizes.

The city restricts all food service establishments, from restaurants to food carts, from serving food with 0.5 grams or more trans fat per serving.

The biggest drop was in burger chains, where trans fat servings went down 3.8 grams on average.

Even the difference of a few grams a serving would be enough to improve the heart health of regular restaurant eaters, researchers noted.

Raul Kim, who preferred the New York chicken, said he tries to eat healthy, but added, “If I am eating fried chicken, I’ve already given up.”

Gina Malkusz said she liked the New York fried chicken better and cautioned New Yorkers to think about what they’re eating.

“When I eat, I try to choose food that’s a little healthier,” she said.


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