The board of supervisors voted to study a possible ban following a request from the Los Angeles City Council for a report on restricting or fully banning hydrogenated oils from restaurant foods.
Trans fats -- which appear on food labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils -- have been linked with high cholesterol and heart disease. The man-made fats are created by injecting oil with hydrogen, which turns the oil solid and increases its shelf life.
Trans fats are typically found in baked and fried foods such as doughnuts, crackers, cookies, breads and potato chips, and in other processed goods such as margarine and salad dressing. Beginning in January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food manufacturers to list trans fat content on nutrition information labels.
In LA County, public health officials will examine the difficulty of enforcing a county-wide trans fat ban. Officials will also meet with community health organizations and members of the restaurant industry to discuss a ban.
Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association, said banning trans fats -- which are still widely used in Californians' homes -- "has more cons than pros."
According to Condie, banning trans fats from restaurant foods may lead to government bans on other unhealthy food ingredients.
But nutritionist and consumer health advocate Mike Adams disagrees. "Hydrogenated oils are artificially manufactured dietary poisons, not natural food ingredients. Banning hydrogenated oils is a common sense step to protect the population from a known dietary poison that causes injury and death to those who consume it. It's no different than banning the thousands of other dangerous chemicals that are thankfully illegal to use in foods for very good reason," Adams said.