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Trans fat ban fails to carry any weight in state Senate

| Sun-Times library

| Sun-Times library

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Updated: July 3, 2011 1:35PM

SPRINGFIELD — The state Senate Thursday rejected a bill that would have banned heart-clogging trans fats from restaurants, bakeries and school vending machines starting in 2013.

Needing 30 votes for approval, the bill failed 13-40 with one voting present. It passed the House in April by a comfortable 73-43 margin.

During Thursday’s debate, the proposal met resistance from state senators who feared the General Assembly was overreaching by parenting citizens on what they could and could not eat.

Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, moved to rebut that argument by pointing to 30,000-cardiac-related deaths last year attributed to trans fat.

“I certainly don’t believe in the Big Brother concept that we need to control every aspect of people’s lives,” Trotter said. “I think we, as a state, have the responsibility to use good judgment to at least in our public sector present them with good, healthy ideas.”

The bill would have not applied to packaged goods and small businesses with less than $4 million in annual profit. It would have set a goal to ban chemically altered trans fat from school cafeterias by 2016.

Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), who voted against the plan, said Trotter’s bill wasn’t necessary because many food manufacturers have already removed trans fats from their products, like Nabisco, the maker of Oreo cookies — Jacobs’ self-admitted guilty pleasure.

“I love Oreo cookies, and I love the trans fat in the old Oreo cookies,” Jacobs said. “I’ll still eat the Oreo cookies, but I liked them better when they had the trans fat. Frankly, I think I ought to make that decision rather than my colleagues.”

Trotter later reminded the senator, with plenty of sarcasm, of the prohibition in the bill.

“Sen. Jacobs got his answer. He can still get his fat and live a good life,” he said. “But as we know, Sen. Jacobs hasn’t missed too many meals. He hasn’t seen a doughnut he didn’t like.”

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