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Battle Over Trans Fats Heads West

The government war on trans fat, started when New York City banned it from restaurant food, has reached Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to study the feasibility of banning artificial trans fats from restaurants there. The City Council in December had asked for similar report on at least restricting them.

"I'm very concerned about the whole trans-fat issue," Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said after Tuesday's vote for the study. "Every time I buy something, I look to see if it has trans fat."

Public health officials will be asked to review the issue with the restaurant industry and community health organizations, and to study whether the county can regulate trans fats at restaurants countywide or just in unincorporated areas.

Jot Condie, president of the 22,000-member California Restaurant Association, said he is open to suggestions but believes banning something widely used in homes "has more cons than pros."

"What's next? Butter, cheese or anything that has saturated fat, which accounts for 15 percent of the average American diet, and also is not healthy, but that also needs to be taken in moderation," Condie asked.

Since January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has required that trans-fat content be listed on all packaged foods. Trans fats, listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are believed to be harmful because they wreak havoc with cholesterol levels.

Last year, the New York City Board of Health voted to ban trans fats in restaurants and to require food labels on menus at all chain restaurants that already provide calorie information.

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