California is yet again blazing the trail in epicurean frontier when the Govenator signed into law a ban on restaurant use of trans fats. This ban will take place starting 2010 with all retail baked goods following suit by 2011. Unfortunately, packaged foods or anything with a ingredient label will continue to be exempt.
In many cases I am just not a big fan of government regulation. Too much regulation or regulation without a direct benefit can become an undue burden upon a market and make a segment uncompetitive. But some regulations can allow for a level playing field, to enable innovation and have significant market benefit. In general it can enable companies to “do the right thing” with the knowledge that everyone else needs to also follow the same rules. It is my belief that this regulation does more good than bad. The health risks are real and the people who are at the greatest risk are those who are lower income families and children. Likely it does not go far enough but this is a great step forward.
As I see it, if we are to go to a universal healthcare, the government needs to be more proactive in preventative measures. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
PS- NYC has the ban in place and I have visited several times and frankly, the food still tastes just as unhealthy as I remember from my youth. For interesting factoids about partially hydrogenated oils and taste tests check out FryTest.com.