Illinois House Passes Trans Fats Ban: Legislation Headed To State Senate

Illinois could become only the second state in the country to ban an unhealthy type of fats, if a bill passed by the State House becomes law.

Trans fats are found in high amounts in artificial substances like partially hydrogenated oils, and have been linked with higher levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and coronary heart disease. They are currently banned in New York City, Montgomery County, Maryland, and a few other local governments around the country. If House Bill 1600 goes through the Illinois legislature, the state will join California, whose ban has been effective since January 2010.

La Shawn Ford, a Democratic state representative from Chicago who sponsored the ban, was thrilled at its passage. “I feel like this is a great step in the right direction," she said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Health problems cost our state so much money and if we can use prevention to keep people out of emergency rooms and keep them healthy this is a step in that direction.”

The ban would not be complete, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains. For instance, the rule wouldn't apply immediately to bakeries in the state, which are heavy users of trans fats. And school cafeterias are also exempt, as legislators worried that budget cuts would make it hard for schools to conform quickly to the new law.

All other vendors, though -- restaurants, movie theaters, vending machines -- would be forced to comply with the rule by January 1, 2013, if the Senate passes the bill and Governor Pat Quinn signs it.

The bill also exempts naturally-occurring trans fats in foods like pomegranates, cabbage, peas, and milk, where they occur in very small amounts.

With little fanfare, it passed the House by a vote of 73-43. It now heads to the Senate for debate.