On Feb. 8, the City Council of Philadelphia unanimously passed an ordinance, effective Sept. 1, that will prohibit restaurants from frying foods in oils or fats containing trans fat. See “Toodleoo trans fats? Phila. council passes restaurant ban,” Philadelphia Business Journal, Feb. 8, 2007. A second phase of this ordinance will kick in a year later, banning trans fats in all other restaurant and bakery menu items, except for pre-packaged foods.

Philadelphia may be the second governmental unit to pass such a law, but it is not likely the last. Since New York City’s Health Department enacted the first such ban last fall, 18 or more states, a handful of counties and nine cities have proposed a wide range of laws, including new nutritional labeling requirements, warnings of various kinds, trans fat bans, trans fat phase-outs and public education about trans fat. See, e.g., National Restaurant Association, Trans Fat Legislation. While some states focus on getting nutritional information on menus, Florida House Bill 309 proposes that restaurants be required to post a sign noting: “Some foods served here contain trans fats. Eating foods with trans fats can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.” In response to this kind of pressure, restaurants are reformulating many menu items and altering methods of food preparation.

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