Barragan’s Mexican Restaurant phased out trans fats a year ago after hearing concerns from their customers, owner Rose Barragan said.
“People want to eat healthy, so we eliminated them from our menu for health reasons,” Barragan said.
Trans fats are typically found in vegetable shortenings, cookies, crackers, or foods cooked with partially hydrogenated oils, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report.
Scientific evidence shows that consumption of trans fats can raise cholesterol levels that increase the chance of coronary heart disease, according to the report.
“Obesity rates have been rising steadily in the western world and one of the culprits has been identified as trans fats,” said Dr. Philippe J. Quilici, medical director of bariatrics and minimally invasive surgery at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. “If you study obesity over the past 50 years and look at the introduction of trans fats in the American diet, there is a significant parallel to the rapid increase of obesity.”
Despite the potential health benefits of the new law, some local restaurant owners are concerned about its overall effects on the food service industry.
“This could potentially hurt a lot of businesses, especially if you get your food from a distributor which makes your food taste good and they happen to have trans fats,” said Gene LoGuercio, owner of Chili John’s. “If the taste changes, that business could lose its customers.”
Although the California Restaurant Association was opposed to the bill, staff is confident that restaurants will be able to meet the mandate, said Daniel Conway, spokesman for the association.
“We feel philosophically that this is something that should be done state by state, but instead, be implemented by federal authorities such as the FDA,” he said. “There are a lot of other substances besides trans fats that are not banned and that are linked to heart problems.”