California Becomes First State in Nation To Ban Use of Trans Fats
On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed a measure (AB 97) that bans the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries by 2010 and 2011, respectively, the New York Times reports.
Trans fats are created by the process of making partially hydrogenated oils, which "results in an inexpensive fat that prolongs the shelf life and appearance of packaged goods and that, many fast-food restaurants say, helps make cooked food crisp and flavorful," according to the Times (Steinhauer, New York Times, 7/26).
However, studies have shown that trans fats can lower HDL, or so-called "good" cholesterol, and raise LDL, or so-called "bad" cholesterol, the Washington Post reports.
Harvard University of Public Health researchers estimate that artificial trans fats cause 50,000 premature heart attack deaths annually (Black, Washington Post, 7/26).
The law prohibits use of trans fats in oil, shortenings and margarine by California restaurants effective Jan. 1, 2010, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, California bakeries must stop using trans fats (AP/Baltimore Sun, 7/26).
Bakeries were given an extra year to adhere to the law because "pastries are the most difficult products to make without trans fat[s]," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Sondag, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26).
Under the law, local health inspectors would be responsible for enforcing the ban. Fines would start at $25 and increase to as much as $1,000 per violation (New York Times, 7/26).
The law does not apply to packaged foods (Sanders, McClatchy/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/26).
The ban in California was opposed largely by the California Restaurant Association, which said that it would be arbitrary and expensive to prohibit the use of trans fats.
CRA spokesperson Daniel Conway also said that banning trans fats should be under FDA's jurisdiction and not states'. However, Conway added that CRA does not plan to challenge the law partly because restaurants already have begun phasing out the use of trans fats in response to customers' requests (AP/Baltimore Sun, 7/26).
The movement to ban trans fats from foods is being led by scientists, physicians and consumer advocates, according to the Times (New York Times, 7/26).
California became the first state to ban use of trans fats, but some cities, including New York City and Philadelphia, already have enacted measures to prohibit their use (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/26).
According to the Times, banning trans fats in the nation's most populous state is a "major gain for the movement against trans fats."
Clyde Yancy, the incoming president of the American Heart Association, said, "I think the potential here is real for a far greater understanding of the harms of trans fats and to encourage more states to do the same."
On Friday, Schwarzenegger said, "California is a leader in promoting health and nutrition, and I am pleased to continue that tradition by being the first state in the nation to phase out trans fats. Consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease, and today, we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California" (New York Times, 7/26).
Links and headlines to other coverage of California's trans fat ban appear below.
- "Schwarzenegger Signs Law Banning Trans Fats in Restaurants" (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 7/26).
- "Eateries Soon Will Be Trans Fat Free" (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 7/26).
- "State Bans Trans Fats at Eateries" (Davies/Crabtree, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/26).
- "State Targets Trans Fats" (Carey, San Jose Mercury News, 7/26).
Links to broadcast coverage are provided below
- On Friday, KPCC's "Patt Morrison" included a segment on the trans fat ban (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 7/25).
- CBS's "Evening News" on Saturday reported on the law. The segment includes comments from Russell Berdoff of Beth Israel Medical Center and California business owners (Hughes, "Evening News," CBS, 7/26).
- NBC's "Nightly News" on Saturday also reported on the ban. The segment includes comments from California Assembly member Tony Mendoza (D), who introduced the bill, Prediman Shah of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and Jot Condie of CRA (Jansing, "Nightly News," NBC, 7/26).