For all California residents with a hankering for trans-fats, today may be your last day to get them, at least as easily as you could before. A law signed in 2008 takes effect January 1, 2010 that bans retail food establishments, restaurants, and bakeries from using trans-fats in their products.
California is the first state in the nation to ban trans-fats completely, though a few cities and even fast food chains have proactively banned trans-fats on their own prior to the law enacted by California. The law targets margarine, shortening, and oils that contain trans-fats and bans their use in food products sold within the state.
The law was passed in 2008, and restaurants and retail food establishments were given until 2010, plenty of time, to change their menus, ingredients, and food preparations practices to comply with the new law. The law was sponsored by State Assemblyman Tony Mendoza and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Mr. Olympia and self-appointed guru of health and fitness, though himself an admitted steroids user.
There are a few loopholes for bakeries who can still use trans-fats in cake batter and to deep fry yeast dough for another year, until January 1, 2011 when even those loopholes will be closed. There likely won’t be a huge rush to change menus on New Years Eve as many restaurants and food manufacturers have already changed their practices in anticipation of the new law taking effect.
The ban in California on trans-fats is heralded by many as the wave of the future, and other states will likely follow the lead of California and enact similar bans. It does raise the specter of the “Nanny State” though, and makes the presumption that people aren’t smart enough, or willful enough to stop eating trans-fats on their own, so the government must do it for them. And it begs the question, if you ban trans-fats, what’s next? And where does it end? Just something to think about.
If you’ve got a hankering for more information about bad ingredients in food and what they do to your body, I’d highly recommend Becky’s great articles – Are Artificial Sweeteners Making Us Fat? and Attacking The Salt Problem.