SPRINGFIELD — Bakeries could be exempt from an artificial trans fat ban now moving through the Illinois General Assembly.

So far, the Illinois House has approved the measure, and it now goes to the Senate for further debate, where it may be changed to leave baked goods out, after complaints from bakery owners.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat and the House sponsor, said he was disappointed the legislation might be changed, after being agreed on in the House.

The legislation would make Illinois the second state, apart from California, to ban artificial trans fats from restaurants starting Jan. 1, 2013, but it would exempt pre-packaged goods.

Artificial trans fats are known to reduce the body’s levels of HDL, known as “good cholesterol,” while increasing levels of LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” putting people at greater risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Peysakhovich, senior director of government relations for the American Heart Association, said that if the legislation were changed to exclude baked goods, then the group would oppose it.

“Not having trans fat regulations in place is better than having very misleading trans fat regulations,” he said.

The Illinois Restaurant Association has no position on the idea because its members have already phased out trans fats, said Janet Isabelli, a spokeswoman.

Some bakery owners, though, have been concerned that a trans fat ban in Illinois would negatively affect the taste of their products. The addition of a baked goods exemption to the legislation would put them at ease.

Susan Lillybeck, owner of Donut Delite in Moline, said shortening containing trans fat is ideal for frying doughnuts, and that alternatives would taste different and be more pricey.

“What they’re trying to do is bad for small business,” she said of a more complete ban.

The legislation is House Bill 1600.


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