The New York City Board of Health approved a ban on artificial trans-fats in local restaurants today. Other cities, such as Chicago, have considered such policies, but New York is the first city to adopt a complete ban. According to the NYT:
The new requirements will mean that the city’s 20,000 food establishments, from high-end bistros to neighborhood delis, will be barred from using most frying oils containing artificial trans fats by July 1, 2007, and will have to eliminate the artificial trans fats from all of their foods by July 1, 2008. The establishments have to switch to oils, margarines and shortening that meet the limits and bring their menus into compliance.
The new rules, however, will allow restaurants to serve foods that come in the manufacturer’s original packaging, even if they contain traces of trans fats.
The health department’s new limits, which were advocated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, will make New York the first large city in the country to strictly limit the chemically modified ingredients that were once considered a benign alternative to the saturated fats in butter.
The Times story also notes that when city health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden asked restaurants to voluntarily halt the use of trans-fats last year, approximately half did so.
UPDATE: At Concurring Opinions, Frank Pasquale raises the possibility of a "soft paternalism" alternative.