Healthy Living

Dec 29, 2009 9:36 PM by Ariel Wesler

Local restaurants react to statewide ban on trans fats

Starting January 1st, a new law takes effect, banning restaurants from cooking with trans fats.

New York City adopted a similar ban in 2006, but California is the first to ban trans fats in restaurants statewide. The law passed in July of 2008 and restaurants have had more than a year to phase out the fats.

Scientists have long linked trans fats to health problems
such as heart disease and obesity, but some believe a complete ban goes too far.

Burger and fries, it's a classic combination, but starting next year, those fries must be prepared a bit differently without trans fats.

"I don't know how necessary it is. I think anything to make food healthier is a good thing," said Luke Hawkins of Santa Maria.

"It tastes the same to me. It's all good," said Aaron Dyke of Orcutt.

Sandy Dionisiou and her husband Mike own Santa Maria Burger.

"It's a great idea. We've been doing it for 15 years," Dionisiou said.

She says the food actually tastes lighter, better, and is better for you.

Several restaurants have already eliminated transfats from their foods but some people argue eating healthy should be a choice not a mandate. Still, researchers link transfats to obesity and heart disease, the leading cause of death nationwide.

"Maybe if we do something about one, we can do something about the other, said Kerry Marcue of Orcutt.

"It's the same thing like when people used to smoke everywhere, and they banned that. . .I have a lot of customers and they do ask if we fry our fries in vegetable oil or the old grease," Dionisiou said.

The new law doesn't only affect fast food. Burrito Loco in Orcutt currently use trans fats in its chips, but doesn't think customers will notice a difference in taste.

"Because of the spices and everything we're already used to, the cooking oil doesn't play that major part in it," said Mary Lizarraga, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband.

Local health inspectors will be responsible for enforcing the law. Violators could face fines ranging from $25-$1000.

Califfornia already has some of the toughest food restrictions in the nation, including a ban on junk food and trans fats in school meals.

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