Indiana, not California, has the distinction of having what is believed to be the first State Fair in the country to require that all its deep fryers be filled with cooking oils free of trans fats, implicated in heart disease and strokes.
Officials of the Indiana State Fair made the boast today, but Norb Bartosik, CEO and general manager of the California State Fair, is unruffled by the one-upmanship.
Two of every three conessionaires who fry foods at the California State Fair already use oils free of trans fats, says Bartosik. It's too late to require concessionaires to switch entirely to trans-fat-free oils for this year's California State Fair, adds Bartosik, but he wouldn't be surprised to see all Cal Expo food stands free of trans fats during next year's run. Concessionaires, aware of consumer concern about trans fats, voluntarily are moving in that direction. In January, at a meeting of officials of the Western Fairs Association, concessionaires reported that they are studying how to make the switch to cooking oils free of trans fats for all foods that are fried.
The Indiana State Fair easily could mandate the change because it requires concessionaires to buy supplies from a central commissary, something not required at the California State Fair, Bartosik says.
In the meantime, the California State Fair has taken steps to encourage fitness and wholesome eating, such as a "health walk" and the addition of more salads, says Bartosik. "You don’t have to eat everything on a stick from a deep-fat fryer."
The California State Fair will run Aug. 17 to Sept. 3. The Indiana State Fair will be Aug. 8-19.