California on Friday became the first state to prohibit restaurants
from using artery-clogging trans fats in preparing their food.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that will ban restaurants and other retail food establishmentsfrom using oil, margarine and shortening containing trans fats.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger noted that consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease.
"Today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California," he said.
Violations could result in fines of $25 to $1,000. Food items sold in their manufacturers' sealed packagingwould be exempt.
The bill's author, Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk, said he hoped the legislation would leadto similar laws in other states.
New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle and Montgomery County, Md., have ordinances banning trans fats, but California is the first state to adopt such a law covering restaurants, said Amy Wintefeld, a health policyanalyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
California and Oregon already have laws banning trans fats in meals served at schools, she added.
The legislation signed by Schwarzenegger will take effect Jan, 1, 2010, for oil, shortening and margarine usedin spreads or for frying. Restaurants could continue using trans fats to deep fry yeast dough and in cakebatter until Jan. 1, 2011.
Richard Garcia, a spokesman for Mendoza, said the delay would give restaurants more time to find trans fat-freemargarine and shortening used in baked goods.
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products. Most trans fats are created whenvegetable oil is treated with hydrogen to create baked and fried goods with a longer shelf life.
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