Illinois may end up as the second state after California to ban trans fats, but local retail bakers aren’t letting the bill pass without a fight.
The legislation, which passed the Illinois House on Wednesday, would ban trans fats in bakeries as well as restaurants movie theaters, cafes and school vending machines. The bill is now awaiting Senate approval and a signature from Gov. Pat Quinn.
Titled House Bill 1600, the bill would enact a ban beginning in 2013. School cafeterias would be expected to be trans fat free by 2016.
Ken Jarosch, owner of Jarosch Bakery Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., and sitting president of the Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association, (CARBA), says that this bill spells bad news for the baking industry.
""Two of our signature products - our buttercream and our butter cookies - will be destroyed because of this bill. Almost every product we make has some shortening in it," he says. "The time and expense to re-formulate will be daunting."
He and CARBA drafted letters [Word document available for download here] that can be sent from bakers, bakery employees and bakery customers, urging the Illinois Senate to vote down the potential ban.
The full text of these letters appears below:
State Senator __________
April 14, 2011
Dear Senator ___________,
Please vote against HB1600 Trans Fat Restriction Act if and when it comes to a vote in the state senate.
This ill-conceived legislation will have a disastrous impact on the retail baking industry in our state. The requirements in the bill will significantly diminish, if not completely ruin, the taste, texture and quality of many bakery products. The time and cost to re-formulate hundreds of recipes will be prohibitive.
Many small, family owned businesses will likely experience significantly reduced sales because they will be unable to comply with the bill’s requirements. Reduced sales will require these businesses to eliminate jobs. Many of these businesses may be forced to close.
LOSS OF JOBS. LOSS OF TAX REVENUE.
While these main street, community oriented businesses are forced to make inferior products, HB1600 allows the large chain stores to continue selling prepackaged product containing trans fats made outside the state of Illinois.
LOSS OF JOBS. LOSS OF TAX REVENUE.
As bakers, we recognize that there are healthier choices than consuming products made with shortenings and margarine containing trans fats. We would never recommend a steady diet of just cakes, cookies, doughnuts and Danish. But, as an occasional treat, in moderation, we feel the educated consumer should have a choice. If consumers do not want our products, they will vote with their dollars.
Let the market forces decide what food the residents of Illinois want to eat. Educate them. Do not legislate them.
From Bakery Employees:
Dear Senator __________,
Please vote NO on HB1600 Trans Fat Restriction Act.
I am an employee of (name of bakery) in (name of town). If you pass this bill, I may lose my job. I am a baker. This is how I make my living. It’s what I know.
We currently make excellent, high quality bakery products. We enjoy a great reputation in our area because of how delicious our bakery goods taste. Being forced to use trans-fat-free shortenings and oils in our butter crème, cookies and Danish will significantly diminish the taste and texture. Our signature products will no longer be the same.
The bakery’s fine reputation – which took my boss’ family decades to create – will be wiped out with the stroke of your pen. At the same time, HB1600 will allow the big box stores to sell their products potentially containing trans fats, made out of state, packaged and shipped to Illinois!
My family and I are already having a hard time making ends meet in this economy. This is not a good time to take away my job.
From Bakery Customers:
Dear Senator _____________,
Please vote against HB1600 Trans Fat Restriction Act.
I am a customer of (name of bakery) located in (name of town). This is a great bakery. We’ve been coming here for years, and we really enjoy their cakes and cookies, just to name two.
I have recently read about the pending legislation banning bakeries from using most shortenings and margarines. It is my understanding that the products that we have grown to love will no longer exist because of this bill.
Since when are we told what we can and cannot eat? Who elected you to be the food police? We elected you to watch over the state budget and to be fiscally responsible. You’re doing that, right?
I know that smoking is bad and that exercise is good. I know that drinking and driving is bad and that drinking responsibly is O.K. I know that eating pounds of cookies at one time is unhealthy and that eating fruit is much better.
I am not stupid.
The last time I checked, this was still the land of the free.
LET ME BE FREE TO MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT I DO OR DO NOT EAT!