New York Bans Trans Fats

I’m a big government kind of guy, but this is insane:

The New York City Board of Health voted today to ban artificial trans fats in the city’s eateries, establishing more rigorous limits than any other American city on an ingredient considered by doctors and nutritionists to increase the risk of heart disease.

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.

Well, thank goodness for that last caveat at least. I’d hate to think the government was overreaching or anything.

I guess they’re coming for sugar and caffeine next.

Comments

  1. #1 M Goldstein
    December 5, 2006

    The evidence that trans-fat is a serious health hazard is substantial. Its not like trans-fat is a natural ingredient such as sugar and caffeine that is found in beans and vegetation. NY should be applauded for taking this action.

  2. #2 Sean
    December 5, 2006

    Transfats also occur naturally in meats and dairy. Yes, most of the transfats in the modern western diet are added transfats, but that is also true for sugar and caffeine as well. Natural levels of all three substances are greatly increased to improve the flavor and marketability of food products.

    I laughed when the smokers said the nanny state would come after foods next. I am not laughing anymore. Touch my soda or Snickers and I will be exercising first and second amendment rights.

    NY should be condemned for taking this action.

  3. #3 Lettuce
    December 5, 2006

    I’m going to guess you’ve never had a stroke?

    I wouldn’t ban them, but I would require labels (yes, in every bar, bistro, fast food joint and fine dining establishment) on every wrapper, every description, any time a food or dish is mentioned.

    But that would create the same outraged holy hell.

    Might as well cut to the chase.

  4. #4 Joe
    December 6, 2006

    It is not clear to me that banning trans-fats will improve food. As far as I know, trans is bad because it behaves like saturated fat. When KFC eliminated trans, they replaced them with saturated in order to maintain flavor and texture. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they say.

  5. #5 AJS
    December 6, 2006

    First they came for the helmetless motorcyclists, and I do not ride a motorbike, so I did not speak up.
    Then they came for the smokers, and I do not smoke, so I did not speak up.
    Then they came for the “trans-stereoisomers of unsaturated essential fatty acids”, and I don’t know enough about organic chemistry to understand what the hell that meant, so I did not speak up …..

  6. #6 Lettuce
    December 6, 2006

    As far as I know, trans is bad because it behaves like saturated fat. When KFC eliminated trans, they replaced them with saturated in order to maintain flavor and texture. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they say.

    Saturated fats, like trans fats, increase the level of LDL.

    Trans fats have the added attraction of reducing HDL.

    The National Academy of Sciences concludes there is no safe level of trans fat consumption and that trans fats are significantly worse than saturated fats.

  7. #7 David D.G.
    December 6, 2006

    AJS, that was brilliantly beautiful!

    Frankly, I would have been happy with Lettuce’s suggestion of just posting the nutritional information, but I see no great reason not to go this route sooner rather than later, especially assuming it doesn’t cause the food vendors to incur some greatly increased cost or other burden. It’s not like they’re being told they can’t fry anything in anything anymore.

    ~David D.G.

  8. #8 Sean
    December 6, 2006

    Let’s not cut to the chase or get there sooner. How about we try informing the public? How about we try letting restaurants of their own volition, at their own pace, make the decision to alter their recipes? Seemed to work (and still works) for monosodium glutamate.

    Let the restaurants choose to make the change and advertise themselves as transfat free. I see packaged food products on store shelves which make this claim. I see consumers (including myself) purchasing these products specifically for this reason.

    There are many wise and beneficial lifestyle choices which American consumers can make. Which of them do you feel comfortable letting our government make for us? Do we consider ourselves so foolishly inept that we can not trust ourselves to make our own choices?

  9. #9 David
    December 6, 2006

    I’ve mixed feelings about this. Although I think it’s a Good Thing for Government, in general, to work toward protecting the public from health dangers, it seems to me that people who care so little for their own bodies perhaps deserve their just deserts, so to speak. Natural selection.

  10. #10 mk
    December 8, 2006

    It’s probably an understatement to say that there’s a large segment of the U.S. population that is not terribly well educated nor financially comfortable. When people in this population go to the grocery store or choose to go to a restaurant they often end up buying a lot of prepackaged goods, canned goods or choosing places like McDonalds or KFC for dinner or lunch. Inevitably they end up stuffing themselves full with insane amounts of trans fats and sodium.

  11. #11 Matt
    December 31, 2006

    Sean:
    “Let the restaurants choose to make the change and advertise themselves as transfat free. I see packaged food products on store shelves which make this claim. I see consumers (including myself) purchasing these products specifically for this reason.

    There are many wise and beneficial lifestyle choices which American consumers can make. Which of them do you feel comfortable letting our government make for us? Do we consider ourselves so foolishly inept that we can not trust ourselves to make our own choices?”

    You would purchase products specifically for this reason because it is irrational for people who value their health to prefer artificial trans fat fortified products. Our health is a collective, and therefore a governmental, issue because goth individuals and businesses, including tax support government agencies, pay for health insurance. Requiring restaurants to identify the artificial trans fat added to their food would be more intrusive than just banning the artificially created trans fat from restuarants, it would also be less effective, and the amount of trans fat in prepared dishes is difficult to accurately measure. Just leaving it to the market place like we currently do, as you advocate, would likely be the least effective approach healthwise and the hidden health care cost would likely be substantial.

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