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The fat is in the fire
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, December 09, 2006

I've talked about the NYC trans fat ban, Jon has talked about the trans fat ban and now Paul Silver at the excellent The Moderate Voice (OK, not as excellent as QandO, at least for the next 8 days) weighs in:
Slate reports that New York City is banning Trans fats (Vegetable oils made solid by adding Hydrogen) because they lead to poor health. I imagine that most restaurants will go back to Saturated fats (from animals) that are still allowed. Some restaurants argue that their food will not taste the same.

It seems to me that much of the same aim could be accomplished while also respecting the freedom of choice by merely raising the tax on Trans fats so that they are more expensive than the alternative. Then some users can choose to pay the premium if they believe it is necessary while most who are cost driven will choose otherwise.

I had a similar reaction to the Smoking bans. No one wants to be exposed to smoke against their will, but many folks enjoy the smoking culture. Why not just exempt private clubs and let adult make an informed choice. I do like a fine cigar and port in a well appointed room.

I don't like government intruding in my life, unless it is unavoidably necessary. Fats and Smoking are not.
While Silver gets most of it right, his solution of appealing to government (through taxation) misses the mark completely. It gives government more of a chance to intrude by sanctioning what is essentially a tax to modify behavior.

What ever happened to choice? Real choice. Look, I don't need anymore trans fats in my diet so I'm careful about what I eat. I know what to look for on labeling and I know what to avoid for the most part. I know the trans fats in foods such as red meat, while not good for me, aren't in a quantity large enough to be a threat to my health in moderation. I make it a point to monitor my health in consultation with my doctor's advice. I've educated myself.

That's my job. That's what I'm supposed to do. And I do.

Yet I constantly hear the counter-argument which says, "well that's great, but what about those who don't"?

What about them? That's their choice. It is also their job. If they prefer the "mouth-feel" that trans fats give a particular food item, what's it to you? Or government? If they just don't care, why should you?

Tell me, who's the last smoker you know who quit because you wanted him too?

If I prefer to avoid trans fats, I will. Nothing stops me from inquiring at a restaurant as to whether an item I'm preparing to order is prepared in a trans fatty oil, and if I don't get a satisfactory answer, I avoid the item. I know, for instance, that most of the fried items in a fast-food place are prepared with trans fats and those who don't use it advertise the fact.

This just isn't that hard.

I know, for instance, that cookies, chocolate, cakes and crackers can be sources of trans fats because they help shelf-life of the item. But I also know that they're available without them. And I know how to tell the difference. In fact I buy saltines at Wal-mart because they have made it a point to carry crackers with no trans fats.

Yes, it is a matter of educating yourself, and like other health choices, that is both your job and your business. It is up to you to make it a priority and then follow through. Making restaurants quit using trans fats does nothing toward establishing that priority or monitoring trans fat intake.

But it does establish a precedent for further intrusion.

That's my particular gripe with this governmental ban of trans fats in oils used in NYC restaurants. It allows the camel's nose under the tent. It's another attempt by the "for your own good" crowd to take further control of my life and choices.

That is the danger here. Incremental and seemingly benign intrusions ("food tastes just as good with other oils, what's the problem?") which set precedents and thereby establish themselves in law. When the real and meaningful intrusions come, the precedent is set.

Freedom means some things you wont hear fiery, patriotic orators say - the freedom to make stupid decisions, the freedom to do dumb things, the freedom to make poor choices which will kill you. Even the freedom to fail.

That's life. And we should be free to live it that way, warts, stupid decisions and all without some other entity deciding what is "good for us" and using the power of government to enforce it.
 
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I know the trans fats in foods such as red meat, while not good for me, aren’t in a quantity large enough to be a threat to my health in moderation. I make it a point to monitor my health in consultation with my doctor’s advice. I’ve educated myself.
Looks bad when you say that you watch for a product made out of hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats) in red meat and then say "I’ve educated myself" 2 sentences later!
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Trans fats are found in red meat, Terry, but not in the quantities found in hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Some trans fat is found naturally in small amounts in various meat and dairy products.
Consequently the amount, in grams, is less and its makeup, biologically, not as harmful as hydrogenated oil.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Nice cover.

Are "various meats" the same as red meat?

And you realize that the amount found in meat is not just not dangerous to you when you eat red meat in moderation, but is also not dangerous to you when you eat red meat in massive quantities?
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
In fact I buy saltines at Wal-mart because they have made it a point to carry crackers with no trans fats.
See, Wal-Mart is evil, so the Dems can’t allow us to shop there, so we can’t get the trans-fat free saltines, so we NEED them to ban trans-fats for us peons.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
*sigh*
Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. Unlike other fats, the majority of trans fat is formed when food manufacturers turn liquid oils into solid fats like shortening and hard margarine. A small amount of trans fat is found naturally, primarily in some animal-based foods.
Link
Trans fats occur naturally in the milk and body fat of ruminants (such as cows and sheep) at a level of 2-5% of total fat.[4] Natural trans fats, which include conjugated linoleic acid and vaccenic acid, originate in the rumens of these animals.
Link
We at BanTransFats.com are not concerned with the kind of naturally occurring trans fat found in small amounts in pomegranets, cabbage, peas, or the type found in the meat and milk of cows, sheep and goats.
Link

Unless they’ve changed the color of the meat highlighted, yes, it means "red meat".
And you realize that the amount found in meat is not just not dangerous to you when you eat red meat in moderation, but is also not dangerous to you when you eat red meat in massive quantities?
Not necessarily true.
The US National Dairy Council has asserted that the trans fats present in animal foods are of a different type than those in partially hydrogenated oils, and do not appear to exhibit the same negative effects.[10] While a recent scientific review agrees with the conclusion (stating that "the sum of the current evidence suggests that the public health implications of consuming trans fats from ruminant products are relatively limited") it cautions that this may be due to the relatively low consumption of trans fats from animal sources compared to artificial ones
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
a product made out of hydrogenated vegetable oil
Only partially hydrogenated. Fully hydrogenated oil is "fine". (Fine as far as trans fats go.)

Generally though, if it’s not specifically mentioned as "fully" hydrogenated, it’s probably partially.
 
Written By: kevin
URL: http://
Hey, what about those of us who choose to not give a rat’s backside what kind of fats are in the food we eat? I can’t believe a post about free choice got derailed into a science lecture. Ugh. If it tastes good, I want it. End of story. Except the Nanny now says "no."
 
Written By: jinnmabe
URL: http://
I can’t believe a post about free choice got derailed into a science lecture.


Funny how that happens. Thanks for noticing the actual point of the thing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
You know, if people exercised enough and had a modicum of discipline in not over-eating, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Laws like this are a sign of how gluttonous our society has become. The problem isn’t the transfat, the problem is our culture. Transfat doesn’t kill, people kill.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Laws like this are a sign of how gluttonous our society has become."
And yet...

I’d say they are more reflective of how willingly and shamelessly people are willing to interfere in the lives of others. If America was nothing but healthy, fit people, the same mentality that leads to trans-fat bans would simply be hard at work trying to ban some other human action.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
This law is kinda funny. Usually laws regarding food is usually the result of food producers sending lobbyist to get laws that will cut out the competition. Kinda like the laws against the sell of raw milk that most states have. Or the laws that require an animal to be slaughetered at a licenced facility. Can’t have farmer Bob cutting taking market share from Pet or cutting out those poor butchers.

Wonder if the lard industry is making a come back.
 
Written By: Mac
URL: http://
First, I hate to correct you again McQ but you have confused naturally occurring trans fats like those found in meat and milk with the synthetic ones that will kill you. Naturally occurring trans fats have not, as they occur in animal fats, been shown to share the harmful properties of the synthetic trans fat resulting from hydrogenation.

Transfats

Second, the places I’ve eaten in NYC generally don’t tell me if I’m getting transfats in my food. The restaurant has an interest in not telling its customers that it uses transfats to cut costs. I’d be willing to pay more for healthy food but I think people who eat them should pay more since they put a burden on the health care system. Bad drivers pay more. Perhaps bad eaters should too.

I’d love to seem them tax but not ban high transfat food. Nixon’s Ag secretary Earle Butts started a policy that actually subsidizes it through our agricultural policies. (Read an Omnivores Dilemma). It seems as though the libertarians here only rant about taxes, never subsidies.

Banning transfats is clearly not as good a solution as requiring full information and making people pay the full cost of their actions. Banning trans fats is clearly a better solution than subsiding the production of synthetic fats and ignoring the markets incentives for keeping people in the dark about what they are eating.


 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
I’d be willing to pay more for healthy food but I think people who eat them should pay more since they put a burden on the health care system.
Let’s go back to a free market in healthcare. Then you can stop worrying about other people’s choices.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Cindy - do you exercise every day and elevate your heartrate for extended periods of time? Warmup well first with stretching? Cool down? Avoid too much high impact exercise, but also get enough (since it improves bone density)? Careful to mix hard and easy days? Do you lift weights for muscular balance and to minimize injuries? Do you make sure to get enough sunshine exposure, but not too much? Do you avoid alcohol, caffine, sweets? Do you eat enough servings of all the food groups that the USDA suggests? Do you get a full night’s sleep every night? Do you always wear your seatbelt? Do you drive in the safest possible car? Do you spend less than you earn so that you minimize financial stress? Do you have a stress-free job? Do you avoid all unecessary risks?

Just wondering, because if you don’t, you’re putting a burden on the healthcare system and I don’t want to pay for it.

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
First, I hate to correct you again McQ...
Well since I think I’ve pretty well made my point, Cindy, you believe anything you care to believe. But the literature all says that naturally occurring trans fats are harmful, but not in the quantities we normally eat.
Second, the places I’ve eaten in NYC generally don’t tell me if I’m getting transfats in my food.
I didn’t say anything about them telling you. I said I ask. You know, open your mouth and make words come out to form a question? And if I don’t get the answer I expect, I order something else.

How hard is that?
I’d love to seem them tax but not ban high transfat food.
Of course you would ... you’re a "government is always the best answer" person.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"making people pay the full cost of their actions."

Oddly enough, there is an industry, the private insurance industry, that does that. If you smoke, you pay more. At least that is the theory. Unfortunately, government seems to think that people should not have to pay for their own actions, so they mandate coverage for pregnancy, sex change operations, pre-existing conditions, etc. This is one of the reasons health insurance is so expensive. I am happy to see that you are opposed to such mandatory coverage.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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