L.A. begins voluntary trans fat reduction program

LOS ANGELES Restaurants in Los Angeles County that voluntarily agree to reduce or eliminate the use of trans fats on their menus will receive a health department decal to promote their efforts as part of the Voluntary Artificial Trans Fat Reduction Program.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health launched the program Thursday to encourage restaurants to stop their use of the heart-clogging, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, shortening or margarine.

Decals are offered to foodservice establishments that donÕt store, use or serve food containing more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, except for food served in the manufacturerÕs original sealed packaging. Facilities are inspected once each year.

For individual restaurants, the application fee is $204. Chain restaurants pay an initial fee of $136, plus $68 per unit.

Andrew Casaña, director of local government affairs for the California Restaurant Association's Los Angeles chapter, reportedly said most of the area's 36,000 restaurants have already phased out trans fats on their menus.

Earlier this year, the California Senate defeated a bill that would have banned trans fat in restaurants in the state. However, the CRA's website indicates that the measure is expected to be reintroduced when the legislature reconvenes in January.