Trans Fat Transformation

KFC, one step ahead of New York City's Board of Health, announced today that it is eliminating trans fats from its menu, a process it expects to complete by April. It will use soybean oil instead of partially hydrogenated vegetable fat for frying. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which this year sued KFC in D.C. for not posting conspicuous enough trans fat warnings (and today said it was dropping the suit), no doubt would like to take credit for the switch, but KFC says it's been in the works for a few years. Fried chicken will still be just as fattening, of course, and publicity surrounding KFC's switch may even lead to greater consumption of it—in which case I'm sure CSPI will be ready with a new lawsuit, charging that the elimination of trans fats was a ploy designed to trick customers into believing the chain's food is good for you.

Update: Litigation enthusiast John "Sue the Bastards" Banzhaf, who brags that he "started the fat lawsuit movement," has issued a press release (not online) asserting that "the eighth fat lawsuit has just been successful," referring to CSPI's now-retracted complaint against KFC. Aside from the temporal impossibility of causing a change in KFC's menu that has been in the works for at least two years by filing a lawsuit last June, note the ambiguous use of fat. The case had nothing to do with obesity, and to date no one has successfully sued a restaurant for making him fat. But the CSPI case did involve cooking fat, as did the lawsuit about the beef tallow that Hindus and vegetarians were (understandably) upset to discover in their McDonald's French fries after the chain had supposedly switched to vegetable oil. That case, which was cooked up by Banzhaf's law school students, is also on his list of "successful fat lawsuits."

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  • ||

    Jacob, you're lucky you didn't link to the KFC website, else I'd have to sue you for promoting a deadly poison.

  • ||

    This whole trans fat foolishness only got started because the virtue industry demonized another kind of fat: saturated fat. The obviously replacement was trans fat-laden alternatives. It turns out frying popcorn in coconut oil and spreading butter on toast wasn't so bad.

    Once trans fats are removed, what wicked thing will be targeted next?

  • ||

    Gads, but I wished that being a pious health Nazi was carcinogenic.

  • ||

    Customers can only militate for a change in food ingedients if they are aware of what the ingredients are in the first place.

    Knowledge is power.

    Consumer info = better markets.

    Lawsuits that help the process of spreading consumer information: hott stuf!!!

    I would second guess KFC's customers, but, in the style of ol' Miltie, I believe the judgements of an informed market are the unbeatable trump card.

  • ||

    Information on trans fats has been available for quite some time. Educated people have known of the risks and have acted accordingly. I like KFC but I eat it maybe twice a year. It didn't take a lawsuit. Just half a brain.

  • ||

    The New York Post reports that restaurateurs can't find enough trans fat-free substitutes.

    "If the city enacts a ban, [according to a trade association], restaurants will be forced to use palm oil, which contains saturated fat and has been found to promote heart disease."

    No trans fat, but lots of sat fat. Pick your poison.

  • ||

    If the additional margin of info changed the behavior of the market, then it is highly relevant. By, like, definition.

    I guess having the information somewhat available, and having it widely available, can be two different things from the perspective of the way free markets behave. Good lesson to take forward.

  • ||

    If the CSPI stopped filing lawsuits, they'd be an all right organization. I never stopped to think about how unhealthful a chile relleno was until they told me. You start with a nice healthy poblano pepper, right? Who'd a thunk that stuffing it with cheese, egg-battering it, and frying it would make it a fat bomb?
    Seriously, I don't mind them offering advice, but I get real sick of them forcing it on me.

    Have you ever read Fast Food Nation? It has been a few years, but I recall coming away from the book with a great deal of respect for McDonald's. They made all sorts of changes due to consumers' choices and voices, without ever kowtowing to any lawsuits, or waiting for some wanna-be nannies to push something through Congress.

  • ||

    Are there really people who think action taken under threat of litigation is the same thing as action taken in response to customer preference?

    Yea, I'm looking at you, Sam.

  • ||

    I have just received info suggesting that food contains calories, the consumption of which is the #1 cause of obesity.

    Whom should I sue?


    Disclaimer: The above was rhetorical. I couldn't care less what Corn Syrup Boy has to say, and I can't wait until Eric updates his filter for the new H&R format.

  • ||

    This whole trans fat foolishness only got started because the virtue industry demonized another kind of fat: saturated fat.

    Since partially hydrogenated vegetable oil has been around for more than 100 years, I'd have to cry foul on this bit of contrarianness, yet again.

    Trans fats are popular with manufacturers for two reasons: they're cheap, and they're shelf-stable. Until recently they were popular with consumers for two reasons: they made food cheaper and last longer.

    Those two features come at a price -- the stuff is bad for you. We didn't know that for a long time, and now we do. Banning the stuff might be dumb, but so is blaming the anti-sat fat people.

  • ||

    Are there really people who think action taken under threat of litigation is the same thing as action taken in response to customer preference?

    "The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which this year sued KFC in D.C. for not posting conspicuous enough trans fat warnings (and today said it was dropping the suit), no doubt would like to take credit for the switch, but KFC says it's been in the works for a few years."

    1. Going by Sullum's blog entry, then, that I would say no.

    2. Seeing as the "scary" lawsuit only sought more consumer information, rather than a costly ingredient switch, I would also say no.

    3. Seeing how they are doing this in advance of the supposedly-coming ban in NYC, I do not think it is that either.

    Is there some problem with the market speaking and KFC listening -- some reason it just can't be that?

  • ||

    Previous answer not clear. Clarification:

    --1. Going by Sullum's blog entry, then, that I would say that this change at KFC is consumer-pref driven.--

    similar edit in point #2.

  • ||

    This is nothing more than a ploy to subsidize the American soybean industrial complex. Ban all fried foods!! Viva la Revolution!!

  • ||

    Whom should I sue?

    Anybody who has failed to label the calorie contents of their foods in the manner that has long been prescribed by law.

    Putting the number of calories on food is an example of a good regulation consumer information that is personally useful to me. Agree or disagree?

  • ||

    "good regulation" = oxymoron

    Phrase it:

    "Putting the number of calories on food is an example of consumer information that is personally useful to me." and I can agree.

  • ||

    A complete ingredient list is an example of a good regulation consumer information that is personally useful to me.

    I also want ingredients likely to be allergenic to be highlighted in red.

    And don't forget the nutrition label.

    And where's the expiration date. Isn't it kinda important to know how long the food is "good" for?

    For Isalofascists, Joos, and old testament xians we need a label clarifying the pork content of this poultry.

    All this is especialy important for foods as little understood as "fried chicken".

  • thoreau||

    Ah, filtered life is good!

    And I see that the blog can now remember us and also let us link to our blogs.

    Great upgrade, guys!

  • ||

    Testing...

  • dhex||

    the unfiltered life is not worth posting.

    long story short, brown bag your lunch and don't eat at restaurants more than once a week, if possible.

  • ||

    I just coined a new term: Trans fatscists.

  • ||

    Ah, filtered life is good!

    I bet!

  • ||

    If the additional margin of info changed the behavior of the market, then it is highly relevant.

    If the additional margin of info convinced the market no change was necessary, then it is just as highly relevant.

    But the nannystate folks would label it "failure" and call for regulation to force people to behave "correctly" regardless of what those people decide.

  • ||

    Do people need to start dropping dead in the streets before we take more common sense actions like this?

  • Paul||

    doubt would like to take credit for the switch, but KFC says it's been in the works for a few years.

    Of course it's been in the works for years. I mean, who here isn't 'more careful' about what we say in our emails, what we say in our domestic and international telephone calls, very, very careful about how we dress and what items we take to the airport?

    The government, a very large, scary institution with legislative and police powers that doesn't even need to charge you for a crime before they send you away to a dark hole from which you'll never be heard again? I've adjusted my routines all over the place.

  • ||

    "Do people need to start dropping dead in the streets before we take more common sense actions like this?"

    People have been 'dropping dead' for centuries. For evidence, look at the fate of Blifil (pere) in Fieldling's "Tom Jones".

  • ||

    Don't forget that we need to put the total amount of calories in the whole package as well as the amount per serving. Because someone who eats a whole package of Oreo's cares about there calorie intake also, but is just too stoopid to do the math.

    Nick

  • Paul||

    I just coined a new term: Trans fatscists.

    Stevo,

    You win. Sieg Health!

  • ||

    Sorry, there should read an "on the label" between "package" and "as well" in my last post.

    Nick

  • Paul||

    Looks like they have a problem

    Hmm..

  • ||

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    You know, if the gubmint would just let them fry in lard and tallow, we'd be fine...

  • ||

    Mike,
    Trans fats are popular with manufacturers for two reasons: they're cheap, and they're shelf-stable. Until recently they were popular with consumers for two reasons: they made food cheaper and last longer.

    Those two features come at a price -- the stuff is bad for you. We didn't know that for a long time, and now we do. Banning the stuff might be dumb, but so is blaming the anti-sat fat people.


    Blaiming anti-saturated-fat folks may not be 100% called for, but blaiming CSPI is.

    Do some homework, I suggest you start here.

  • Ron Hardin||

    Fat isn't fattening. Calories are fattening, whether carb, protein or fat doesn't matter.

    Presumably the research at the moment is that fats aren't all that bad, of the right kinds ; trans-fat is a wrong kind.

  • ||

    McDonalds and KFC aren't stupid. Transfats (read crysco) make food taste better. All this is doing is creating the opportunity to open underground burger stands in NYC. It is just a matter of time now. People are going to continue to ignore all of the government's advice on how to live and the government is going to start throwing them in jail. Mark my words within 10 years someone will be doing time for selling illegal fried chicken and waffles.

  • ||

    I'm sure CSPI will be ready with a new lawsuit, charging that the elimination of trans fats was a ploy designed to trick customers into believing the chain's food is good for you.

    In that case, just once, I'd the like to hear the attorneys representing KFC say"It's fucking fried fucking chicken! Of course it's not good for you!"

  • ||

  • ||

    id shoot fried chicken if I could find a needle big enough......

  • ||

    Yeah sure, Kwix. Next you'll tell me that all of that corn whiskey I guzzle doesn't count toward my five servings of veggies.

  • ||

    My grandmother fried everything in bacon grease she kept in a can on top of the stove. She made it to 92.
    When I was a kid McDonald's had the best fries in the world. They were fried in beef fat. Now that they use vegetable oil they taste like crap.

  • Paul||

    Yeah sure, Kwix. Next you'll tell me that all of that corn whiskey I guzzle

    BP, I've reported your name to CSPI. Shortly, five uniformed men with CSPI emblazoned across their backs will be knocking (or actually performing a "no-knock" raid) your door (down) and demanding that you submit to involuntary alcohol de-programming.

  • ||

    MUTT that is fucking funny!

  • dagny||

    Since partially hydrogenated vegetable oil has been around for more than 100 years, I'd have to cry foul on this bit of contrarianness, yet again.

    Yes, but McDonald's at least used to use actual animal fats, rather than hydrogenated oils.

    I think animal fats taste better, too. Compare cookies made with butter to ones made with margarine some time. Then sue me because you ate the whole freaking batch of cookies.

  • ||

    If fat people went back to being jolly and/or quit suing restauarant chains blaming them for making their asses fat from pig-like eating, people would get off their case.

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