Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation AB 97 on July 25 banning the use of trans fats in restaurants, making California the first state to adopt the guideline. Effective Jan. 1, 2010 the ban will prevent the use of oils, margarines and shortenings that contain trans fats in restaurants and bakeries.
Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, authored the law with the expressed intention of protecting the public from the reported harmful effects associated with trans fats.
‘As a former elementary school teacher, Assemblyman Mendoza has seen firsthand the consequences of an unhealthy diet consisting of food cooked with trans fats, has on children and adults,’ said Richard Garcia, a spokesman for Mendoza, in a phone interview.
‘The long term health issues involved, from expanding waistlines to a higher risk of diabetes, as well as the overwhelming scientific evidence of the ability of trans fats to lower good and increase bad cholesterol made this an urgent issue for Assemblyman Mendoza,’ said Garcia.
The time delay for enacting the law to go into effect was designed to help accommodate the transition for restaurants and provide a realistic time frame to find alternative cooking oils, said Garcia.
Restaurants and bakeries will have an additional year until Jan.1, 2011, to replace trans fats in batter and dough used for deep-frying.
‘Unfortunately pre-packaged food that comes into California will be exempt since it is not a federal ban. However, Assemblyman Mendoza hopes this will serve as an inspiration for other states and the government,’ said Garcia.
‘There are trace amounts of naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy. However, the artificially created trans fats have been treated with hydrogen and produce goods that have a longer shelf life,’ said Ellen Bauersfeld, a registered dietician at the Klotz Student Health Center.
While the ban is a step in the right direction that includes an increased awareness of health and diet concerns, it is a small part of a large problem, said Bauersfeld.
‘It is Band-Aid therapy in the sense that it doesn’t address the other aspects involved. For instance, the high sodium content in restaurant food is also a health risk,’ said Bauersfeld.
Student life on a university campus mirrors the real world in terms of the available food options and high-paced pace, said Bauersfeld. Often students make the decision to grab whatever is fastest and tastes the best such as fried foods.
Many restaurants, including fast-food chains, have begun addressing the increased health concerns of their consumers by developing menus with healthy alternatives such as salads.