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School Trans Fats Ban Closer To Approval In Colorado

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Students eating at Manual High School (credit: CBS)

Students eating at Manual High School (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (AP/CBS4) – Artery-clogging trans fats in Colorado school cafeterias and vending machines are already an endangered species in most schools, but Colorado moved a step closer to banning them everywhere Monday.

A House committee approved a school trans fats ban 8-5 on Monday, sending the measure to the full House. The ban already passed the Senate.

The ban started as the nation’s toughest – including even after-school bake sales and concession-stand treats – but it has been weakened to preserve fundraisers such as cookie sales and to give schools more time to comply. Sponsors argued that the weakened bill poses no threat to beloved childhood favorites.

“We’re not taking pizza or French fries away from the kids,” said Republican Rep. Tom Massey, chairman of the House Education Committee. Instead, he said, those foods would simply have to be prepared without hydrogenated fats known as trans fats, including traditional types of shortening.

Democratic Sen. Lucia Guzman is co-sponsoring the bill with Massey.

“Part of our responsibility for children involves learning about health, learning about their bodies, and being energized with proper kinds of foods so that they can learn better,” Guzman said.

Some school officials tried in vain to get lawmakers to drop the ban. Some pointed out that federal school food guidelines on the way will ban trans fats and make the bill moot.

“The federal government is already sitting in the schoolhouse kitchen,” said Jane Urschel of the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Another school official, Laurie Albright of the Boulder Valley School District, called it an “unfunded mandate” that could burden some school districts.

“We already don’t have enough money and people in the kitchen,” Albright said.

But lawmakers from both parties approved the ban after Massey argued it wouldn’t cost districts extra money because it’s in line with upcoming federal food guidelines. Massey described the bill as a policy statement on the part of the state that Colorado is doing something about childhood obesity and that the state cares about the food it feeds children.

The measure now heads to the full House. If the trans fats ban clears that chamber, it will have to return to the Senate because of small differences. The House committee changed the bill to exempt donated food not intended to be eaten at school, such as weekend take-home donations from food banks and other charitable groups.

LINK: Senate Bill 68

- By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

CBS4 staff contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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