SP Premium
100,000-149,999 SparkPoints 137,280

California bans trans fats in restaurants

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This story has been in the news a lot recently, and I've seen some discussion about it on the Message Boards. So I thought we could get a conversation going about it here!

A few weeks ago, California passed legislation that bans restaurants and other retail food establishments from using oil, margarine and shorting containing trans fats in the foods they sell. Although there are some other cities in the U.S. that have similar laws, this is the first state-wide legislation of its kind.

Although it will be a few years before the law takes effect, many restaurants have already been phasing out trans fats to satisfy their customers.

What are trans fats and why are they such a big deal? Trans fats are oils that have been chemically-altered (through a process called hydrogenation) from their original liquid states, into solid shortening. The process increases the shelf life of the oil and improves the texture of the food to which the oil is added. However, trans fats increase your risk of heart disease, clogging arteries and lowering your good cholesterol. You can read more about them here:

Translating those Trans Fats

So what do you think? Is it the job of individual states to be making these kinds of laws, or should regulations be coming from somewhere like the Food and Drug Administration? Is it the job of government to decide what we should and shouldn't be eating?

Let me know your thoughts!

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love laws like this. I also love living in California because weare often the first out of the shoot with great ideas like standards for car emissions and other no brainers.

    These rules make it easier for people to make the right decisions. Without a law like this I wouldn't even know how much trans fat my restaurant meal has or how to make a better choice. It would be better if this was a federal rule but this way we get to try it out before the whole country has it.
    2499 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10592153
    WOW ! Coach JEN , this is the first BLOG I have read of yours and I REALLY appreciate the way you worded it and left it open for discussion ! It makes it easier to hear all sides instead of feeling defensive .

    It is my opinion that :

    The whole point of ppl coming to this country to begin with was to escape oppressive rulers and governments . If you think back a couple of hundred of years ago , it would be silly to think of a pioneer being told what to eat by a newly formed government . They ate what they NEEDED just to give them enough energy to get them through their back braking work . These days most of our work is sedentary and we find ourselves eating MANY more calories than we end up using . Another point in the "time line" is that in that time , most ppl where influenced by their own families and morality was passed down from generation to generation , just as naturally as hair color or height . My point is , that what is BROKEN isn't THE LAW , but PPL GORGING THEMSELVES TO DEATH . And until we turn our focus back on the family unit as the source of our foundation for life , their wont be enough laws to save us from OURSELVES .
    3503 days ago
    Hi Jen:

    If we could trust people in making food healthy the State or government would not have to do it. But we all realize that is a dream and if Food and Drug and everyone else didn't stand guard who knows what we would be eating . having labels help us but we have to use our intelligence to keep us healthy. I am glad we have Spark people to help us alone the way too. God bless you and keep up the good work.

    Smile Joyce
    3590 days ago
    Well, people are evidently not going to make the right decisions. I am all for free will too so maybe we should just start heavily taxing the stuff that is causing a strain on the health care system and society. I mean fine if you want to eat in a way that results in a shorter life span and a horrible way to die but why should those choices force the rest of us to pay higher taxes to support an already strained health care system and social services for people too ill to work any longer. In my observation people are very willing to play the "free will" card but not so much the "responsibility" card that should go along with it.

    I wish they would implement this in NY. It would make going out to eat a lot more enjoyable experience instead of a crap shoot because of how my dining out choice may be prepared. :/
    3706 days ago
  • GRAMMIE1959
    3743 days ago
  • no profile photo RADIOMAN55
    I wonder what McDonalds is going to do. ALL their hamburger meat has trans fat in it!
    3773 days ago
    Rather than ban trans-fats why not just stop producing them altogether? Didn't this madness start @ 30 years ago or so? We all lived without them before, we can live without them again.
    4323 days ago
  • NAENAE1213
    I prefer free will. If I choose to eat poor choices...that's MY choice. I don't like anyone telling me what I can and cannot eat. I'm a dietitian. I teach this stuff daily. Yes, trans fats are bad. But, water can be bad if you drink too much of it. People need to take a little responsibility for their own actions rather than looking for someone else to blame.
    4323 days ago
    NEVERGIVEUP - You hit the nail on the head....in 20 years the Government or medicine will be publishing something saying oops we made a mistake trans fats are actually healthy for you.....do you really think banning trans fat is going to make people change their eating habits? Eating habits come from within. The message I am seeing now is go ahead and eat all the french fries you want because they don't have trans fat! The're healthy!! Is that the right message...a few years ago it was "fat free" and everybody ate twice as much....well we know what happened.....education...not government intervention is where our energy should be spent. Anything in moderation is fine...it's overeating and lack of exercise that is the problem. Not trans fat! I am a perfect example of that statement!
    4565 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/20/2008 11:37:40 AM
  • no profile photo MARTYRED4LOVE
    I may be out of line here, but hasn't the government always dictated what we can and can't consume? Isn't the FDA a part of the government? And is it not their job to make sure we don't consume stuff that is complete cr*p? It would be one thing if they were banning healthy foods and ingredients (I wouldn't doubt if they had/do) but really, does anyone NEED those trans fats? I don't get why people are upset about the idea of the government doing something GOOD for our health.
    4689 days ago
    What is there to say you hit the nail on the head...way to go
    4691 days ago

    Hi Jen

    to manage the health of a population is so hard, we can't limit our approach at public health messages to the population,
    also the influence of the advertising is very strong,
    in France most of nutritionnists are jealous of this law against the trans acid fats, we want the same ;-)

    I desagree with the opinion which supports that each person has to make his own choice and to be 100% responsible of himself...
    This would mean that obeses or patients with high cholesterol rate are responsible of their illness but the largest part of the doctors, the psychology and the sociology... supports that these patients are not really responsible of their illness but are, for a large part of it, victims of the environment.

    4692 days ago
    You said it. "Everything in moderation". Agreed. But the government making these foods unavailable!!! Telling me what I can or cannot eat??? Trying to save people from themselves only restricts our freedom more and more. It is about education not more government regulation. I thought this was supposed to be a free country. How far will it go??
    4692 days ago
    Ignorance is bliss! YOU ON A DIET, Dr. Oz! The book that will explain what lard and hydrogenated fats do to your body! The book is loaded with infomation! People usually are not informed about what they are eating, we live on auto-pilot. If they were really informed they wouldn't put any processed crap in their bodies. They would go organic and try to understand the concept that most people are ignorant when it comes to nutrition. I didn't say dumb. But they just aren't informed. No one is saying that eating a donut made with lard is going to kill you instantly but if you eat stuff like that everyday of your life, well... It's just common sense. Everything in moderation and fresh, whole foods are best. The least amount of ingredients possible. If it has more than 5 things in it, what are they and do you want to feed that to your family? Broccoli, carrots, green beans and so on. You see what I'm saying. Those are really good foods if they aren't sprayed with pesticides! But again, ignorance is bliss... Have a great day and be good to yourself!!
    4692 days ago
    California is NUTS! When I was a girl, my grandmother made donuts with LARD. (Best donuts you ever tasted). When the saturated fats became associated with heart disease, we all switched to the hydrogenated vegetable oils (like Crisco) and now these are bad. I also remember when eggs were considered the worst thing on the planet, now they're considered healthy (in reasonable amounts). I don't want the government telling me what I can and cannot eat. I also don't want the government telling a chef to eliminate any ingredient from a food that you might eat once a year! Come on!! Labels fine, the rest of this stuff is nonsense!
    4692 days ago
  • no profile photo PSC21257
    South Carolina is doing it to. It is really great!
    4694 days ago
  • BKRISTEN1213
    I am glad this took place. I admire California laws, they are much more progressive than the rest of the U.S. state and federal laws.

    Austin, TX
    4698 days ago
    I personally believe it is a good idea,since starting sparks I now want to know how my food is prepared and in what..maybe if the government would step in americans would not be the most obese in the nations..
    4699 days ago
    I'm amazed that people say they are against the government imposing regulations on the food industry to protect our health. That is the primary reason we have government, to protect us from corporations (including the food industry) who would put profit above the health of the people who are their customers, and responsible for their wealth.
    4700 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/7/2008 11:23:08 PM
    I think it's more complicated than people realize. One argument is that restaurants should post that there are transfats in some of the foods but from the time I spent living in San Francisco I know that you can go in a restaurant, be starving and there are trans fats in everything there. Ok, that was a particular restaurant but nobody but me cared about it at the time. I think trans fats being phased out will be a huge step forward in improving the health of the state, and may make a huge impact on health issues that trouble the state such as obesity and heart disease. It really isn't as easy as just posting it, there are people who won't read the posts or fully understand what they mean.
    4700 days ago
    I am against the goverment banning trans fats. I think they need to post that they are in their foods so people know.
    4700 days ago
  • DV0086
    I don't think it is the government's job to tell us what we can and can not eat. They already infringe way too much on our personal liberties. I do think that fast food restaurants should have the nutrition information printed clearly on the food packaging and sit-down restaurants should have it in the menu. Banning trans fats will not help the obesity problem. Your health is a matter of personal responsibility.
    4700 days ago
    When it comes to industry-created "foods" that have been designed with their profit in mind - we BETTER have a government that does some regulating!! Bravo California!
    4700 days ago
  • no profile photo GOAL142
    I hope FLorida is next!
    4700 days ago
    I wish more states would do the same thing. It would be one step closer to a healthy america.
    4700 days ago
    Bravo!!! I first learned about trans fats in the 70's when I read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. It has taken thirty years but finally something is being done about it.
    4700 days ago
    Control and regulation has to come from somewhere. So it's from the Federal government, that's fine. For consumers to be heard and result in drastic in the food industry, consumers would have to start "eating HOME" more and "eating less in the restaurants to force change. Someone mentioned about the "smoking in public places" ban; I wholeheartedly supported that issue. It is the Federal government's responsibility to effectively regulate what the food industry is doing: isn't that called the Agricultural Department. As consumers, we should be prudent in our choices, but we sometimes allow our taste buds to overrule our common sense. We are (should be) our first line of defense; but what is wrong with a second and a third line of defense, even if it is provided by State or Federal governments??????? Trans Fat is BAD news, why quibble about the MEANS when the end is JUSTIFIED?
    4701 days ago
    Trans fats have not always been used in foods and the retail food establishments didn't bother to ask the public how we felt about them adding trans fats, although they knew it was not in the best interest of the public. Without regulation of some sort, the restaurant industry is free to add substances without making the public aware that it's being used much less the consequences.
    4701 days ago
    I'm against the government having control over telling us what to eat. They have to much control over everything else. I like the idea of food service places changing fron Trans fat. I dodge it like the plague. I 'm finally on right the track,now.
    4701 days ago
    I think it's absolutely horrible that the government is now legislating what restaurants can cook with. What's next?

    I don't eat trans fats and avoid them like the plague, but I would like a lot LESS government in my life, not more. This is a bad precedent. Consumers should be making that decision, not the government.
    4701 days ago
    I am against the making of laws for our good. I am for restaurants changing their practices because of public demand.
    4701 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3343212
    I felt a bad vibe coming on when we allowed legislation to go so far as to restrict where smoking was allowed- not that the habit isn't bad- but that we allowed Government to dictate where you could do it. It was the 1st step toward controling all our personal choices- next will be who can actually eat in what resturant- in MS there is legeslation being considered regulating who can eat at All U can eat Buffetts- a hostes will be armed with a scale- if you do not meet the BMI? you will not be allowed to eat there.
    It's already gone into Health Insurance- once smokers were forced to made to pay more for the privelege of Health Coverage- guess who'll be next to pay more?
    4701 days ago
    I think it's rather frightening that we trust our politicians and government to make better decisions for us than we can make for ourselves. I think it's great that restaurants are choosing to phase out trans fats due to consumer pressure, but I think getting politicians to make health decisions for us is even more dangerous than the occasional bad fat.
    4701 days ago
    I think it would be great if the FDA or USDA would issue nation-wide regs on things like transfats -- shown to be harmful to our health.

    The first question that comes to my mind though, is, how are they going to enforce it? As it is, they only test a fraction of a percent of foods getting to our stomachs; the incidence of food poisonings seems to be on the rise; where is the $$ going to come from; don't you think alot of food mfgr's will skirt the laws anyway; etc????
    4701 days ago
  • no profile photo 2BPHYSICAL
    I think the FDA should be an active part in legislation. I don't think it should depend on what state you live in! It might be interesting to see epidemiology studies regarding CAD in those states that have taken an active role in banning transfats in restaurants. But, at the end of the day, it is our own responsiblity to make good choices.
    4701 days ago
  • NEEN20
    I think it is absolutely fine to have the government block trans fats. We as consumers have no idea what we are putting into our mouths. I know it is our responsibility to find out, but sometimes in today's society we are pressed for time. This gives us the opporunity to see that our government does care about us in some ways. There are some things the government tries to step in and block our rights, but as far as trans fats... I can't imagine anyone wanting these trans fats in their diet. I don't have a lot of positives with the government today, but this one I have to say Thumbs Up! emoticon
    4701 days ago
    I think it is fine to ban transfats. I'd like to see the nutritional value of the menu listed in the resturants, so, it would be easy to make a good choice! It seems to me, that I think I make a good choice in a non chain resturant, get home, figure out my nutrition and find that I've had all my calories for the day in 1 meal! Is there a resturant challenged team out there? emoticon
    4701 days ago
    It is terrific to see organized resistance at such high levels seeking to fight what I refer to as "corporate control over our bodies!"

    I've been blogging about this off and on...if fruits and veggies had the ad revenue of McDonald's they would be the coolest, most passionately desired snack of ALL!

    Late at night, the munchies strike...? If fruits and veggies could be promoted the way McDonald's and all the other fast food, unhealthy foods are promoted across all forms of media, we would be salivating for a stalk of fresh brocolli, an orange or cauliflower floret to quell those late night munchies!

    Here in the *land of the free* you would be astonished to learn how greatly all those zillions of advertising dollars spent SEVERELY INFLUENCES our supposed *FREEDOM OF CHOICE!*

    These corporations are NOT in the habit of throwing that kind of money around without it yielding SIGNIFICANT return on their investment! In other words this money is spent because it has a direct and proportionate influence on the food choices made by consumers.

    The consequence of consumers getting fatter and fatter is either inconsequential to the corporate bottom line, or, to take it yet another step further our national obesity ADDS to the corporate bottom line because, guess what? Corporations can sell ZILLIONS of dollars of products and services to obese Americans!

    For true freedom of choice, it is essential for us to be as informed as possible and to be as critical of the media with which we are bombarded as possible. It is a vital fight for our taste buds to question ourselves when we think high sugar, high fat, chocolate product tastes "good." How did we learn that...? What influences are at work here...?

    Don Doornbos, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals SparkTeam

    4701 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/6/2008 8:41:57 AM
  • KITT52
    I don't think government should tell us what to eat. It should be up to us. When I see that has happen over the last 20 years or so I'm no longer sure. Our country is getting fatter and fatter. I wonder when they will do something about all the high fructose corn syrups too.
    So I say read those label's if you don't know what it is don't eat it.

    4701 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.