Even as Congress debates increased funding for the federal food stamps program and nutrition aid, this Dispatch will
outline the steps states are taking on a wide array of policies that
impact working families in urban centers and on rural farms, from food
safety and regulation to access to local foods to improving health and
nutrition in our communities.
With Governor Schwarzenegger's approval of AB 97,
California became the first state to ban the use of trans fats in food
preparation at restaurants and bakeries, achieving a key public health
goal. Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils,
are used in numerous prepared and packaged foods like French fries,
margarines, crackers, and doughnuts. Trans fats significantly increase
consumers' risk of heart disease by spiking so-called bad cholesterol
and decreasing good cholesterol. Several cities,
including New York City, preceded California with their own bans, but
the California action will increase the likelihood that other states
will follow suit. Under the California law,
restaurants must discontinue their use of trans fats by 2010 and
bakeries must comply by 2011; fines will range from $25 to $1,000.
Packaged foods are exempt.