Los Angeles County Considers Ban on Trans Fats
A task force of public health officials hired by Los Angeles County to study whether to ban artificial trans fats in county restaurants will submit a report next week to county supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports.
County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, who recommended the study, said that new guidelines could range from a disclosure law or menu labeling, to a full ban.
Jot Condie, president of the 22,000-member California Restaurant Association, said, "We don't think that it is the role of local governments to ban food products."
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, county public health director, said the report's recommendations "would have to be phased in." He added, "It's not something you can do overnight."
If the report concludes that trans fat is a public health issue, it is likely that new rules would apply countywide, according to the Times.
Burke said the rules would include a trans fat restriction in county health inspections, which give restaurants letter grades on cleanliness.
Fielding said that trans fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease but that a ban on trans fat alone would not decrease obesity because it would not reduce calories in meals. "It's replacing one kind of fat with another kind of fat," he said.
The Los Angeles City Council also is studying the possibility of a ban and will address the issue in the next few weeks, according to the Times.
FDA in January 2006 began requiring that trans fat content be listed on all packaged foods. The New York City Board of Health last year voted to ban trans fats in restaurants (Barboza, Los Angeles Times, 1/24).