SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation on Friday making California the first U.S. state to prohibit restaurants from preparing food with trans fats, which clog arteries and raise the risk of heart disease.
The bill will be phased in starting in 2010 across California, a trend-setting state where diet-conscious legislation has been gaining momentum in recent years.
New York City and Philadelphia are among other U.S. jurisdictions with laws banning trans fats.
"California is a leader in promoting health and nutrition, and I am pleased to continue that tradition by being the first state in the nation to phase out trans fats," said Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilding champion.
"Consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease, and today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California," he added.
Last October, Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning artificial trans fats in food served at public schools.
California Restaurant Association members will comply with the new law, said spokesman Daniel Conway. "Many of them are already voluntarily moving away from the use of trans fats," he said.
The association opposed the legislation because it believes such rules should be made at the federal level by agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Conway said.
Trans fats are used in fried foods as an alternative to other healthier oils that break down faster under high temperatures, and in baked goods to extend their shelf life.
The consumption of trans fats -- often in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils -- increases the risk of coronary heart disease, according to health authorities.
McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest restaurant company, will have phased out the use of trans fats at its restaurants before the California bill goes into effect, said spokeswoman Danya Proud.
"We will be in compliance by the end of 2008," Proud said, noting baked goods at McDonald's restaurants in the United States should be trans fat-free by the end of this year.
Fried menu items at McDonald's restaurants in the United States are no longer prepared using trans fats, Proud said.
Wendy's, the third-largest hamburger chain, switched to trans fat-free cooking oil in 2006.
Yum Brands Inc's KFC and Taco Bell chains in the United States completed such a switch last year.
Burger King Holdings Inc, the second-largest burger chain, has promised to switch its U.S. outlets to trans fat-free oils by year-end.