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Calif. bans trans fats in restaurants

July 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
California restaurants have until January 1, 2010, to get rid of artery-clogging trans fats from the foods they serve.Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed the proposal.

"We're all aware of the Governor's commitment to improving the health of Californians, and in particular, concerned about obesity, nutrition and physical activity. We think this fits into an overall vision on his part on how we can do that," said Dr. Mark Horton, State Public Health Director.

The Governor says he signed the ban because trans fats are linked to coronary heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in California.

Many restaurants use partially-hydrogenated oils because they can increase the shelf life and flavor of foods. They were also often cheaper than healthier oils. However, with food prices on the rise, diner owner Pasty Lane says they cost about the same now. However, she doesn't like the government telling her customers what to eat.

"I still think it's freedom of choice, and we're not getting it. Everybody tells us what to eat, where to sleep, what to drive," said Lane.

While many restaurants were already moving away from trans fats because of consumer demands, those eateries that don't switch could face fines of $25 to $1,000 for each violation.

"My wife tells me what to eat. I don't need my governor telling me what to eat," said Jason Plecker, who enjoys fast food.

"He's just going to force me to cook more at home, that's all," said Ted Surratt, who also frequents fast food restaurants.

Doctors believe the ban is for our own good.

"This is a very good thing for California. Tens of thousands of people die unnecessarily because of trans fats. By taking those out of restaurants, we're really going to help a lot of people prevent heart attacks and strokes." said Michael Hirt, M.D., Tarzana Hospital Internist.

The new law also gives restaurants and bakeries until 2011 to get rid of trans fats from baked goods. The ban does not apply to packaged goods sold in stores. Eyewitness News reporters Nannette Miranda and Leanne Suter contributed to this report.

 

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