If unshakable stupidly were a crime the dimwits who run the American Heart Association would be doing hard time in a dismal penitentiary somewhere.
An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal titled Lobbyists Work To Stop, or Stall, a Trans-Fat Ban (requires subscription) discusses the furious lobbying taking place–both pro and con–over the proposed ban on trans fat use in restaurants that is coming up for a vote nest Tuesday by the city’s board of health. No one knows how the vote will go, but the speculation is that the board will approve the measure.
If New York City restricts the use of trans fats in restaurant fare most people think that other cites across the country will follow suit. As you might imagine, most restaurant chains are lobbying mightily to prevent approval of these restrictions. Strangely, they have a unlikely ally:

The health department measure garnered 2,000 pages of response from restaurants, health officials and New York residents. Most of the people who spoke at a public comment session last month were in favor of the regulations. There were some surprises. The American Heart Association criticized the proposal, writing that it favored a more comprehensive strategy with a longer phase-in period for trans-fat removal in part because the association fears restaurants will switch to oils with high levels of saturated fat, which is also unhealthy [my italics].

Do these people have a clue that there is no real evidence that saturated fat is “unhealthy?” And that many researchers–Mary Enig, for one–believe that saturated fat is good for us. There is no lack of mischief that can be done when thimble heads run the show.


  1. Of course I am not in favor of restaurants using transfats in cooking, but I am very wary of allowing the government to regulate this. I don’t want the government regulating what I can and cannot put into my own body, regardless of whether or not it is “for my own good.” An example of some idiocy in this vein that’s already in place is the ban on unpasteurized dairy products in many states.
    I would like to see transfats gone forever, but I don’t think that regulations like this are the way to do it.
    HI Elizabeth–
    I’m pretty much with you.  I don’t believe in a lot of hands on government regulation, especially of food.  In this case, trans fats are bad, and the ban will be a good thing.  But, what might they set their sites on next?  Saturated fat?

  2. Earlier in the month, the AHA made clear their position on the proposed ban on trans-fats by New York City when Robert Eckle, President of the AHA, said the sudden removal of trans-fatty acids from restaurants is not a practical solution, telling heartwire that many individuals, from “field to mouth,” are involved in the process and need to be consulted.
    He said the ban is unrealistic and unfairly punitive to the food and restaurant industry.
    I guess the ban would hurt their sponsors whose products still contain partially hydrogenated oils and those companies with the AHA logo?
    Hi Regina–
    So maybe it’s not unshakable stupidity; maybe it’s simple greed.

  3. What are the benefits of banning trans fats?
    People eating more trans fats free fries, potato chips, cookies, etc.?
    Is it truly a good thing for the uneducated (or rather, mis-educated) people?
    Hi Max–
    I don’t believe it is a good thing to ban trans fats.  Actually, let me restate.  I DO think it is a good thing to ban trans fats if it would stop there because people will eat less of them.  But I don’t think the idea of banning any food is a good idea because once the process is in place, who knows what the ‘regulators’ will want to ban next.  Steak? Eggs? Saturated fat?
    I would much rather decide for myself what I want to eat or not eat.
    Education can accomplish a lot.  Look at cigarettes, for example.  Smoking is on the decline everywhere because people have become educated as to the harmful effects of smoking.  Cigarettes are available all over the place–they haven’t been banned, yet people are buying fewer.  Were I New York City I would put my money into education about the ill effects of trans fats instead of into a phalanx of new regulators to enforce a trans fat ban.

  4. I always say, if it wasn’t for stupid people then mediocre people like me wouldn’t look so smart. The AHA keep me looking like Einstein!
    Hi David–
    I suppose that’s one function of government agencies and pseudo government agencies such as the AHA filled with academic pin heads: they keep us all looking smart.

  5. Louisville, KY is proposing this same ban. I’m against trans fats, but I’m also against government regulation. I say let the educated avoid the fast food and let the others eat their trans fats. The article in the local paper here about it showed a picture of a guy, overweight of course, at KFC. His quote was “I’m all for the ban. If they can make something that is healthier for me, why shouldn’t they?” Of course, when we’re talking fast food fried chicken, whether it’s cooked in hydrogenated soybean oil or perfectly healthy palm oil, it’s a difference between being hit in the head with a sledgehammer and a baseball bat. The ban will probably just reinforce “healthy” in people’s minds in regard to fast food.
    Hi Scott–
    I agree with you right down the line, although if I were to eat fried chicken–which I do on occasion–I would much prefer it’s being fried in palm oil or coconut oil than in hydrogenated soybean oil.  What makes the fast food fried chicken so God awful is the nasty breading they put on it.
    I’m all for taking personal responsibility on most everything, especially where food choice is involved.  The less regulation the better.  Over zealous regulation is why we can’t have more locally produced meats.  Farmers and ranchers can raise food animals the right way; they just can’t get them slaughtered (and sold) unless there is a USDA regulated facility to do so close at hand.  And because the USDA requires so much of slaughterhouse operators, there are no small, clean, local, mom-and-pop type facilities.
    It’s been my observational experience that whenever the government lays its heavy hand on anything, whatever minor improvements take place are more than offset by the assertion of the law of unintended consequences.
    Here’s hoping that the next two years of gridlock minimizes any new regulating, at least at the federal level.

  6. It seems that Governments world wide can’t help but try to run every single little aspect of our lives! Obviously all that power to rule has gone to their tiny little pin heads. When did it become power to rule instead of public service??? Instead of banning things they have already allowed into the community perhaps they would better serve us if they did a little more personal research before they passed these things into being. Giving us all a little rest from the hype & advertising of what a great job they are doing, would be nice too. Maybe we do need to be looked after like babies that don’t know any better after all we all used our free will to vote them in, & look at what a mess we made of that !!
    Hi Helen–
    Amen.  I think you’re right on the money.

  7. In reference to Scott Kustes’ comment, the fat guy at KFC said, “I’m all for the ban. If they can make something that is healthier for me, why shouldn’t they?” THEY MAKE IT ALREADY!!!! You just have to cook it at home!
    Hi Dave–
    How true, how true.

  8. The thing is, trans fats are an artificial product that should never have been used in the first place, so banning an artificial product is fine by me. When restaurants use trans fats, they do it for their own bottom line without regard to the public health, and without telling the customer. This is quite different from banning raw milk in that the end consumer of raw milk is quite aware of what he is buying and why. It would be analogous to trans fats if there were no distinctions made on the labels between raw and pasteurized, therefore not allowing the consumer to make an informed choice. If restaurants let the diner make the choice of what substance his food would be cooked in, then it would be analogous to labeling all milk products as to content, AND allowing the consumer to buy what he wants. Banning raw milk is as much a part of Big Agra lobbying to get its way as it is a public health concern.
    BTW, Monsanto fought hard years ago to avoid labeling milk products that contained bovine growth hormone. They didn’t want consumer opinion to interfere with their bottom line. And yes, a few researchers found problems with BGH and were promptly shut down by Monsanto money. Deregulation is not a panacea in a complex society like ours and can have a deleterious effect on the public.
    Hi LCforevah–
    It is strange that we have a ban on natural, raw foods and no ban (until now in NYC) on fake foods.  If I were the person (the King, so to speak) who got to decide what was banned and what wasn’t, I would be pretty happy with the outcome.  But, since I’m not, and since I know how misguided those in the position to ban are, I would rather take my chances on having no bans at all. I would prefer that we all got to make our own educated choices and let the market take care of what those choices will ultimately be.  The recent fresh spinach debacle is a case in point.  No one had to ban anything after the E. coli outbreak–the market pretty much took care of it.  People are still leery of eating fresh spinach.

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