Philadelphia - Mayor John Street's pen stroke in a ceremony in City Council chambers Thursday officially ushered into law a trans-fat ban in public food service establishments here.
Actually, the bad-for-the-heart trans fats will be banned in September, from restaurants only.
It will be another year before trans fats are banned in bakeries.
Well, that's not quite true.
The new law includes no penalties for not complying, so trans fats will be banished only if the restaurants are willing to get rid of them.
So if food service establishments refuse to go along with the ban, there's nothing the city can do about it. The bill's sponsor, Councilman Juan Ramos, does promise to have city employees lecture businesses that don't comply.
Anyone who doesn't think that is much of a threat hasn't heard Ramos' lecture on trans fats.
Trans fats are man-made partially hydrogenated cooking oils. The addition of hydrogen to plant oils thickens the oil and raises the temperature at which the oils become liquid. The additional hydrogen also acts as a preservative, preventing the oil from becoming rancid.
Studies have shown trans fats increase "bad" forms of cholesterol in the system while reducing "good" forms of cholesterol. Trans fats have been linked with contributing to heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.
Crisco is perhaps the most famous example of partially hydrogenated oil.
Philadelphia joins just a handful of other cities, including New York, which has banned trans fats from public eating establishments. It is the first to ban trans fats by legislation.
"I am proud to sponsor this important public health legislation. Today, Philadelphia is at the forefront of the national trend to ban this dangerous fat," Ramos said in his signing remarks. "This legislation, coupled with the recent enactment of the smoking ban, will make Philadelphians even healthier and, above all, save lives."
Street commented, "Philadelphia is at the forefront of the urban food renaissance. Because of initiatives like this bill, Philadelphia is increasingly seen as one of the healthiest cities in the country."
Afterward, Street told reporters he realizes there are objections by some to the city telling people what they can eat or where they can smoke in public.
He defended the legislation, saying, "In matters of health, we have an obligation to get into people's business."
Street said he believes the ban with help to reduce health insurance costs in the region.
"I sometimes say I'm tired of paying for other people's unhealthy lifestyle," he commented.