California is poised to become the first state in the nation to ban restaurants and other food facilities from using trans fats, which are known to increase the risk of heart disease, under a bill approved by the state Legislature Monday and sent to the governor.
The measure, passed with a bare majority, comes two weeks after a similar ban in New York City became fully effective. California doctor and consumer groups support the law, while restaurant groups have offered a lukewarm response. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position, a spokesman said.
The bill, written by Tony Mendoza, would require restaurants, hospitals and facilities with food-preparation areas to remove oils, shortenings and margarines with trans fats by Jan. 1, 2010, except for use in deep frying for dough and batter. Bakers would be given an extra year to figure out how to make goods free of partial hydrogenation.
By Jan. 1, 2011, food preparation sites would have to be eliminate all ingredients with trans fats or face fines from $25 to $1,000. The bill exempts public school cafeterias, which must be trans fat free under a law that takes effect at the start of the coming year.