Small Ingredient, Big Impact

California becomes first state to ban trans fat

Dining out is a whole lot healthier now in California. But does a new state law go too far?

The Golden State is the first state to ban trans fats in its 88,000 restaurants and bars. The California Legislature passed the new law in 2008, but the state gave restaurants until 2010 to change their recipes and menus.

California restaurants can no longer use oils, margarine, or shortenings with more than half a gram of trans fat per serving.

“Its the worst kind of fat you could possibly consume,” consumer Camie Simms said. “It's exciting that California is pioneering the movement and I really, truly believe that by setting the example other states will follow through.”

Experts have tied the substance to clogged arteries, strokes and heart disease. Yet, some think what you eat should be a personal choice.

“I think it's a little extreme the government is jumping in, banning food preparation with the trans fat,” Julie Saper said. “I exercise every single day and I watch what I eat but that's a choice I make.”

Restaurants like Nicky Rotten's Bar & Burger Joint in the Gaslamp District are now using alternatives.

They made the switch six months ago.

“We have a cotton seed oil that has zero trans fat, that's what a lot of people are going with right now,” Nicky Rotten's Bar & Burger Joint spokesperson Justin Cady said.

A similar provision will apply to baked goods in 2011.

“I know it's complicated for the restaurants to put the menus out and put it on their menus and change some of their suppliers and products. But I think overall, to be a health conscious state, I think it's a great idea,” Cady said.

Restaurants that continue to stock oil containing trans fats can be fined up to a $1,000. Local health departments say they will be inspecting and enforcing the new law.

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