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.

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Jon Scott
Jon Scott
17 years ago

The “nanny-state” is alive and well in New York and we all need to be concerned. This is the biggest of big government intervention and is being designed and delivered by a guy who not only runs with an “R” next to his name, but who has spoken at a Republican convention. We’ll all be OK if we just give our decisions over to a multi-billionaire health freak who knows what we need better than we do? Yikes! I rarely eat at fast food restaurants (life is too short to eat crappy food) but this needs to become the point at which the line in the sand is drawn and the battle is forged. I am against the smoking ban, as well, because it is a undue regulation of private business and these kinds of restrictions make the government a partner in your operation if you own one of these establishments. That wasn’t the way the free-market system was designed and in RI, where the government is a de facto partner in the slot parlors, it becomes a question of crossed interests when only certain establishments are given exemptions. People need to be informed. If they choose to ignore the information that is, unfortunately their prerogative. People need to be able to make choices on their own. If they choose poorly, again, the onus is on the individual. Business owners of all types need to band together and fight these legislative initiatives because eventually, everyone will be affected. It harkens back to Neimoller’s famous Holocaust poem that explains “…They came for the Jews but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me but there was no one left to speak up for me”. Government will always seize as much power as we, the people,… Read more »

17 years ago

“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.”
And this sort of irresponsibility is why there is a perceived need for a nanny state.
We can only do so much to protect people from their own bad choices. This is over the line.
In fact, seat belt laws were over the line for me. Yes, seatbelts save lives. But the consequence of the failure to wear one only affects the person who decided not to put it on. Whereas making their use mandatory starts us down an undesireable road.

17 years ago

“But the consequence of the failure to wear one only affects the person who decided not to put it on.”
Not true. As a firefighter and first responder to many a motor vehicle accident I can say that the seatbelt is there to primarily keep your butt behind the wheel.
If you begin to spin out of control on ice and you’re strapped in, you’re still in the control spot of the car and you can recover.
If you’re not strapped in and you go into a spin, you’re in the passenger seat. And that out-of-control car can spin into another car and injure or kill other people.
I’m no fan of the nanny state, but if people are too stupid to wear a seatbelt, I don’t have a problem with the government telling them they will, if just for the chance that it will save MY life by someone else strapping in.

Tom W
Tom W
17 years ago

Bloomberg was pandering to the unions the other day … and apparently has visions of running for President.
Same with NY Governor Pataki.
That these two poster-children for RINO-hood would seriously consider themselves contenders shows how far the Republican Party has deteriorated since the days of Ronald Reagan.

17 years ago

Pataki, Bloomberg AND Giuliani?
And the winner might well face off against Hillary.
Could be an all New York run off in ’08.

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