CNS – A voluntary program in which Los Angeles County restaurants will be urged to reduce their use of trans fat—the catch-all term for unsaturated fats made with partially hydrogenated plant oils – started Nov. 15.
County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, along with public health officials and members of the California Restaurant Association, will announced the start the “Voluntary Artificial Trans Fat Reduction Program” at Poquito Mas in Westwood.
Restaurants that agree to participate in the program will reduce or eliminate the use of trans fat oils and get a decal from the Health Department to put on windows next to letter grades.
“We’re getting more and more on board saying they will not do it (use trans fat),” Burke said.
“We have not had massive objections from restaurants on the trans fat issues,” she said.
Trans fats became popular in restaurants largely because they are cheaper and have a longer shelf life than healthier oils. In 1911, Crisco pioneered the process of adding hydrogen atoms to unsaturated fats to give them a higher melting temperature, a longer shelf life and making them attractive to bakers.
Eating trans fat oils increases the risk of coronary disease, heart attacks and possibly diabetes, according to a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Andrew Casana, director of local government affairs for the California Restaurant Association’s Los Angeles chapter, representing about 36,000 restaurants, said most area restaurants already have phased out trans fat.
“The industry is going away from that,” he said.
Trans fat cooking oils were banned in New York City in July, and several fast food chains, such as Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and McDonald’s, said they would eliminate the use of trans fat cooking oils throughout their national chains.
Casana said he expected most restaurants to participate in the program, so they can get the county decal.