New York City has banned trans-fats in restaurants; restaurants have until July 2007 to get rid of the trans fats. ((Except for donut shops, which have until July 2008.))
1) I’m enough of a libertarian to think they should have just required restaurants to clearly label foods containing trans fats, and then let consumer preferences do the rest. ((The bill does require restaurants to provide calorie information, which is good.))
2) On the other hand, if this law really saves 500 lives a year (as ban proponents claim), I’m enough of a liberal to think that’s worth a tiny loss in freedom. But I’m skeptical about the 500 lives a year claim; I haven’t been able to find out how that figure was derived.
3) NYC Mayor Bloomburg says “We’re not trying to take away anybody’s ability to go out and have the kind of food they want in the quantities they want.” It must be nice to be that free of distressing reality. Next, Mayor Bloomburg will explain how speeding laws aren’t trying to take away anyone’s ability to drive as fast as they want.
4) Trans fat ban proponents often claim that there’s no taste difference between food prepared with trans fats and food prepared with other oils. But that isn’t true; many folks (but not all folks) can taste the difference. See the taste test at the bottom of this Willamette Week article, for instance. And no one knows how to make trans-fat-free donuts that taste as good.
5) Ironically, margarine — once billed as the healthier (and lousier-tasting) alternative to butter — is much higher in trans fats than butter, and is now considered less healthy than butter. Zig! cry the health mavens. Zag! they cry, ten years later. Yet their credibility never seems to go down.
6) Banning trans fats in restaurants, but not in grocery stores, doesn’t make sense. I guess the supermarket lobby is more powerful than the fast-food and donut lobby.