NYC Bureaucratic Heroes: Spare the Trans-fats, Save the World
OK, I’ll admit that I’m glad that there is a smoking ban in restaurants (though bars…I’m not so sure), but NY City is taking this too far. Banning trans-fats?
…New York has planted a flag on what could be the next front in community health wars.
It is becoming the first city in the country to ban all restaurants from using artificial trans fats, while requiring hundreds of eateries to post food calorie counts right on their menus.
City health officials created the unprecedented new requirements Tuesday. Restaurants will get a grace period to make both changes, but by mid-2008, Dunkin’ Donuts will have to find a substitute for the 3.5 grams of trans fat in its Boston Kremes and tell customers up front that the snacks contain 240 calories.
But the city’s gigantic food-service industry has opposed parts of both new rules, and some restaurant companies have hinted that they might challenge them in court…
The city’s health commissioner, Thomas Frieden, said the changes will help fight the twin epidemics of obesity and heart disease. Trans fats, listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, are believed to be harmful because they wreak havoc with cholesterol levels.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who banned smoking in bars and restaurants during his first term, said the changes could save lives.
“We’re not trying to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food that they want in the quantities that they want, but we are trying to make that food safer,” he said.
Pretty soon, Mayor Bloomberg and his administration will soon be requiring all people to walk around in those inflatable sumo wrestling outfits so that they won’t get bumps and bruises, thus making them safer. There are multiple problems with this lunacy. First is the short-term economic impact on restaurants:
…some restaurant cooks have worried about tinkering with tried-and-true recipes. Concerns have been raised about whether there is enough trans-fat-free cooking oil on the market to supply the city’s thousands of friers…
…Big fast-food companies had complained about the calorie provision, too, saying it would clutter menu boards with health data already available on fliers, charts and Web pages…
…Frieden acknowledged that finding substitute ingredients for baked goods will take experimentation.
“There are real challenges for certain products,” he said.
Menu changes cost money, food could taste worse and the prices could rise because of a trans-fat-free cooking oil shortage. Quick, head for the futures market! Second is the fact that, well, cooking oil with trans-fats is legal:
“This isn’t over,” said Dan Fleshler, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, which represents the industry. “We don’t think that a municipal health agency has any business banning a product the (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration has already approved.”
Finally, well, I just can’t set this up:
Kathy Ramirez, a 26-year-old New York mother who takes her toddler to McDonald’s every week, approves of New York’s new restaurant rules.
“It’s hurting us, all this fat, but the kids really like it,” said Ramirez, pointing to 3-year-old Amber, who had just finished her dinner. “It would be better to know what we’re getting.”
Hmm. You take your toddler to Micky D’s every week, you know the food is full of fat and your happy that the government is stepping in to let you “know what [you’re] getting.” Instead of making healthier choices on your own, your perfectly happy to let the government do it for you. BaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaBaaaaaaaaaaaa.