First Statewide Trans Fat Ban Looks Likely

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association has announced that it will not oppose a statewide ban on trans fat, which now seems likely to pass:

The association's president, Peter G. Christie, told lawmakers that a statewide trans-fat ban would be preferable to a patchwork of local regulations. In May, Brookline became the first town in Massachusetts to embrace a trans-fat ban, although restaurants have until November of next year to comply. Boston and Cambridge have also considered bans.

"If it's decided that we need to take these things out of our foods in restaurants for health interests, we'll be willing to work with you," Christie told the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health.

Individual restaurateurs, of course, have been free at any time to replace trans fats in their fried foods and baked goods with nonhydrogenated alternatives, and some have. The fact that others have not suggests they fear that doing so would give other restaurants a competitive advantage, whether because of lower costs, better taste, or both. As with smoking bans, a statewide rule that applies to all restaurants relieves this anxiety. I have no particular attachment to trans fat (or secondhand smoke), and if consumer demand drove restaurants to abandon it, that would be fine with me (just as it would be fine with me if every restaurant independently went smoke-free). What I object to is politicians' insistence on short-circuiting this process by imposing their preferences on all restaurants and, indirectly, on all consumers, including those who have no particular desire to avoid trans fat and those who actually prefer it.

[Thanks to Michael Graham (again) for the tip.] 

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  • Fluffy||

    I have seen a trans-fat free future, and it is a potato chip cooked in sunflower oil that tastes like my ass.

  • ||

    Why do you want everyone to die from heart problems related to consumption of trans fats? What do you have against America?

  • ||

    Dan T. will be by shortly to tell you to move to a state that swims in trans fat if you don't like it in Massachusetts. Sort of like how southernerners used to urge uppity nigras to move North in the 1950s if they didn't like it south of the Mason-Dixon.

  • ||

    I feel thinner already.

  • Episiarch||

    These fucking policians are (unsurpisingly) stupider than dirt. They're on a "ban binge" lately, and everything they ban will create black markets for these products. The insane cigarette taxes make for huge illegal sales, for instance. Soon we will all be criminals because we had some lard or smoked a cigar or gave HFCS to a child.

    I'm being hyperbolic, but this is just getting ridiculous. These politicians are in a race to see who can be the first to ban the next thing, with absolutely no care for the economy, businesses, liberty, or even common sense.

  • ||

    The first rule of toxicology,all things are toxic,the dose is the posion.I think we can apply that to laws and regulations also.

  • ||

    Remember the days when drawing a slippery-slope connection between banning tobacco and banning unhealthy food seemed like something that only the crazy guy sitting in the corner would talk about?

    And we all laughed at him.

    Those were simpler, more innocent times.

  • ed||

    a trans-fat free future, and it is a potato chip cooked in sunflower oil

    Ever had Gibbles? They're cooked in pure frikkin' lard!
    Mmmm....pig fat...

  • brian||

    Fluffy
    I have seen a trans-fat free future, and it is a potato chip cooked in sunflower oil that tastes like my ass.


    Actually I think the new Sunflower Oil Lays taste better than the old trans-fatty ones, plus they're healthier. Evidence of the power of the free market at work! Just look at KFC who removed trans-fats altogether because their customers wanted it (without any government ban).

    Episiarch
    These fucking policians are (unsurpisingly) stupider than dirt. They're on a "ban binge" lately, and everything they ban will create black markets for these products


    I seriously doubt that there will be a black market for food with trans-fats, since they don't actually add to the taste of food and only marginally cut costs. I don't know anyone who prefers them.

  • jimmydageek||

    Fluffy | July 12, 2007, 8:43am | #

    I have seen a trans-fat free future, and it is a potato chip cooked in sunflower oil that tastes like my ass.


    Do you go around tasting your ass frequently?

  • ||

    Where the real diffculty comes in in baked goods. Without using saturated fat, trans fats give the best texture. Non-trans unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, so if they are used in baked goods, the final product is completely different.

    There is a lot of work that goes into replacing trans-fat in food. It requires changes in formulation, processing, equipment, bakings times, etc. It is not just a simple matter of plugging in a non-trans fat.

  • Timothy||

    I liked the old lays better. In the same way I liked the old 7up better, but I'm all for cooking stuff in lard because if you're going to fry you might as well go whole hog.

  • ||

    Dan T. will be by shortly to tell you to move to a state that swims in trans fat if you don't like it in Massachusetts.

    That would be a good point, if I had made it.

    I'd probably follow with a remark about how Mr. Sullum does not seem to think that the people of Massachusetts are capable of coming up with the rules of their state, and should instead bow to his ideas as to what they should be.

    On a more serious note, trans fats are extremely unhealthy and in cases like this it appears the the people of a given area have decided that they would rather not allow their sale as opposed to having the burden of trying to figure out which resturants use them and which ones do not. The case against trans fats are especially compelling since healthier alternatives are available that provide the same taste, albeit at a slightly higher cost.

  • Xmas||

    I hope this brings lard and tropical oils back into vogue. I miss those tasty heavy oils.

  • ||

    A government so powerful it can tell us what we can eat is more dangerous than trans fat.

  • Timothy||

    Dan: Or it could be that we think there are systematic flaws in voting systems and sufficiently weird incentives/irrational behavior that maybe elected officials don't actually represent the preferences of the electorate very well.

    There's also the question of whether or not telling people which products they can and can't buy is the legitimate purview of government regardless of whether or not people want it to be so.

  • ||

    Law of Unintended Consequences - Part 2
    Although banning hydrogenated vegetable oil might seem to make sense (although the evidence to support this ban is what someone who actually does epidemiological studies as statistically insignificant) the ban has been extended to incorporate all trans fats.

    This means that it includes all products that contribute more than .5% of a gram of trans fat.

    Add to you list: lard, tropical oils, butter, milk, eggs.

    So our politicians, in looking out for your health, have changed the way we bake, cook and fry foods. With a product and process that has never been shown to have any benefits, spoils food faster, makes it less stable, and makes it taste like Fluffy's ass.

    Sorry to rain on the parade of Junk Science but if you look at the cities and states that are championing these bans they are overwhelming socialist entities pandering to mostly Vegan oraginizations, both of which are trying to scare the sh** out of the public for about the 100th time. Just the facts.

    Ralph has said it best.

  • ||

    Dan: Or it could be that we think there are systematic flaws in voting systems and sufficiently weird incentives/irrational behavior that maybe elected officials don't actually represent the preferences of the electorate very well.


    Yes, that sometimes does appear to be the case. It will be interesting to see the reactions of the citizens affected by this ban - will there be mass demonstrations, riots, etc?


    There's also the question of whether or not telling people which products they can and can't buy is the legitimate purview of government regardless of whether or not people want it to be so.


    That is a question but it's a little odd to suggest that people cannot create the type of government they want and instead should submit to someone else's highly subjective ideas of legitimacy.

    I guess this is kind of a pointless debate, though, since libertarians are against any sort of public health initative, no matter how effective or benefitical it turns out to be. The right to kill one's self trumps all.

  • ||

    I wonder if Dan would be so sanguine about the "right" of the people of Massachusetts "to make up the rules they live under" if they passed a law banning pharmacies from selling contraceptives to anyone who wasn't a married adult woman.

  • x,y||

    The right to kill one's self trumps all.

    What's your position on assisted suicide?

  • ||

    Maybe this only works out in Massachusetts because they're all going to be required to buy health "insurance," and if none of them eat trans fats, maybe their "insurance" rates will be lower? Or not...

    Does anyone else realize that by promoting the use of tropical oils in place of trans fats, you're merely creating a very sudden and sharp increase in demand for them, which will ultimately result in the devastation of vast stretches of palm trees and what-not? They simply don't have the sustainable production capacity in place yet to deal with such a demand. Same deal with bio-fuels actually...

  • ||

    How long before someone opens up an underground restaurant and snack bar selling decent potatoe chips, cakes and fried chicken. Good luck frying chicken or baking anything using anything besides crysco.

  • Marv Albert||

    Having never tasted Fluffy's ass, can anyone verify that once you chomp you can't stop?

    [As VM again]
    use of tropical oils
    Stevo, from what I've heard, is quite the expert in applying the perfect layer of tropical oils on nubile, young nymphets.

  • ||

    How long before someone opens up an underground restaurant and snack bar selling decent potatoe chips, cakes and fried chicken. Good luck frying chicken or baking anything using anything besides crysco.

    How long will be never because nobody can tell the difference.

  • Timothy||

    Reinmoose: Heh. DEMAND KURVE?

    Dan: Well, you're welcome to have no over-arching position on what a state should and shouldn't be allowed to do. Or, as it seems, take a strictly majoritarian stance, but that does leave a lot of room open for the government to do whatever the hell it feels like and claim that its actions are legitimate because there was an election.

    Do you really not subscribe to any kind of position/philosophy/thingy regarding the rights of citizens and the appropriate duties of the state? If elections have potential to be extremely flawed, can it even be said that elected officials are performing the duties people would want them to perform?

  • ||

    What's your position on assisted suicide?

    I would be for it, but with government oversight to ensure that those commiting suicide are fully aware of what they are doing and are either suffering chronic pain or have a terminal disease.

  • Timothy||

    And are transfats worth having riots over, probably not, but it is awfully silly for government to waste time and money imposing those preferences on people. And if you can't tell the difference between something fried in lard or crisco and something fried in sunflower oil, you really need to get out more. And by "get out more" I mean "eat more soul food you godless heathen."

  • jimmydageek||

    Slightly off-topic. Did anyone see the Mythbusters episode where they took used vegetable oil from a fast-food restaurant and made a diesel car run on it? Got fairly decent gas mileage out of it too.

  • VM||

    YEAH. WHAT TIMOTHY SAID.

    Reinmoose - we're seeing that in the production of agave... hier

    SAVE HIGHNNUMBER!!!!!

  • ||

    Dan: Well, you're welcome to have no over-arching position on what a state should and shouldn't be allowed to do. Or, as it seems, take a strictly majoritarian stance, but that does leave a lot of room open for the government to do whatever the hell it feels like and claim that its actions are legitimate because there was an election.

    Do you really not subscribe to any kind of position/philosophy/thingy regarding the rights of citizens and the appropriate duties of the state? If elections have potential to be extremely flawed, can it even be said that elected officials are performing the duties people would want them to perform?


    No, I certainly do ascribe to the idea that individuals have certain rights and that there are certain things that governing bodies should not be allowed to do in any case.

    But one thing that I do find to be a legitmate function of government is regulation of markets, which includes the ability to prohibit unsafe or unhealthy products to be sold if it is deemed that the benefit of allowing that product on the market is less than the harm it causes.

  • ||

    "How long will be never because nobody can tell the difference."

    Well there is no difference in health benefits but there is a difference in taste.

    Dan T
    So we should just accept every ban placed on us, at the point of a gun, that is based on Junk Science because it sounds good.

    Perhaps you should check your voting registration card if that is what you believe is an important job for government.

  • ||

    And if you can't tell the difference between something fried in lard or crisco and something fried in sunflower oil, you really need to get out more. And by "get out more" I mean "eat more soul food you godless heathen."

    I would be interested in seeing the results of of a controlled taste-test where people attempted to identify if various samples of foods contained trans fats. Does anybody know if this kind of thing has been done?

  • ||

    I would be interested in seeing the results of of a controlled taste-test where people attempted to identify if various samples of foods contained trans fats. Does anybody know if this kind of thing has been done?

    The correct study here would be to provide people with foods that contain and do-not-contain trans fats, then ask them which they prefer. Then to price the two accordingly and ask them which they would buy, given taste and price.
    Not that this is necessary, since it happens every day on its own...

  • ||

    Art, I will be you $1000 that no on in Massachusetts will be punished under this law for using butter, milk, and eggs.

    You in?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Apparently, Dan T. thinks Mr. Sullum is not capable of commenting on the rules that the people of Massachusetts have come up with, and should instead bow to Dan T.'s views of the wisdom of the people of Massachusetts.

  • ||

    The correct study here would be to provide people with foods that contain and do-not-contain trans fats, then ask them which they prefer. Then to price the two accordingly and ask them which they would buy, given taste and price.
    Not that this is necessary, since it happens every day on its own...


    I'm not sure that it does - when was the last time you went to pick up an item in the store and saw a "trans fat" version right beside the "non trans fat" version? And how many people really put that much thought into it?

  • Mike Laursen||

    Dan T. at 10:14 am: ... it's a little odd to suggest that people cannot create the type of government they want and instead should submit to someone else's highly subjective ideas of legitimacy.

    Dan T. at 10:37 am: No, I certainly do ascribe to the idea that ... there are certain things that governing bodies should not be allowed to do in any case.

  • ||

    Mike, you kind of got me with that one. I guess it all goes back to the tricky question of the balance of individual rights versus collective rights.

  • ||

    I suspect that Big Lard is behind this.

    As for Dan T., the majority can oppress just as easily as a guy with a fancy hat. That's why even our system has limits. For instance, there may be a majority of people here who would like to pour a vat of trans fat over your head. Not me, of course, but I'm a minority in this.

    joe,

    Good luck there, but if you need some trans-fat goodness, know that those of us in the flabbier parts of America are willing to smuggle some in to you!

  • ||

    I'm not sure that it does - when was the last time you went to pick up an item in the store and saw a "trans fat" version right beside the "non trans fat" version? And how many people really put that much thought into it?

    Well, many companies that are capable of removing trans fats from their products are doing so at the moment for marketing purposes, so they can put that coveted "0 Grams Trans Fat" on their packaging. But if nobody's putting that much thought into it, why would they actively support a ban on it? You're talking about people not actively opposing a ban on it, in which case the government should be used to do things that the people don't actively oppose... not that there's a lot that they could do if they did.

  • ||

    Mike Laursen,

    My experience tells me that if the original post had praised the trans fat ban, Dan would be railing against the hypocrisy of libertarians supporting freedom in one area but not another.

    He is a dogged devil's advocate, not a brilliant one.

  • Scooby||

    Can't we go back to saturated fat goodness? Now that trans-fats have been demonstrated to be evil, it is obvious that Lard and butter are superior to old-formula Crisco & margarine in every conceivable way.

  • ||

    Dan T,what do you mean by unhealthy?I happen to like rich french cheeses and oysters on the half shell.The amounts of fat and cholesteral makes them 'unhealthy' in the veiw of many.Not to mention the risk of bacteria.No food is perectly safe or healthful.It's a matter of degrees.By the way,I like to wash my cheese down witha nice heavy stout.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Agreed that it's a tricky question. I'm not sure exactly what "collective rights" are.

    For example, isn't the argument for banning trans fats posited on a claim that there is an individual right to be protected from purveyors of unhealthful food? What would the collective right be -- the right of our aggregate coronary bypass statistics to be lower?

  • ||

    Dan T. at 10:14 am: ... it's a little odd to suggest that people cannot create the type of government they want and instead should submit to someone else's highly subjective ideas of legitimacy.

    Dan T. at 10:37 am: No, I certainly do ascribe to the idea that ... there are certain things that governing bodies should not be allowed to do in any case.


    Rethought:

    In the first quote I was discussing functions of government and why it matters little if people outside that government consider it legitmate. For example, reasonable people can differ on whether providing health care is a legitimate function of government. But even if you think it's not, it's hard to understand why you'd be bothered that people in another country think it is.

    The second quote was more about individual rights and whether the government has the absolute right to do whatever it wants to its citizens. In that case, it's easy to understand why a person in country X would be upset that a person in country Y's rights were being violated.

    So I think Mike has somewhat unfairly taken both quotes out of context to make it appear that I'm contradicting myself.

  • ||

    "I would be interested in seeing the results of a controlled taste-test where people attempted to identify if various samples of foods contained trans fats. Does anybody know if this kind of thing has been done?"

    That's the problem DanT. There were no studies or anything else done to see what would be better or worse. This is the essence of the nanny state, "We say it's bad and you will follow."

    Joe:
    Its illrelevant. Once the standard is set at "trans fat free" all else follows.
    There is no partial way. All of the trans fats are out whether they are the ones outlawed or not.

  • ||

    My favorite part in all this trans-fat hysteria, is watching the new KFC ads where they insinuate that their just as unhealthy fried chicken is now healthy and you should eat more of it because they don't use trans-fats.

    Way to go!

  • ||

    I found a link to an article (below) that says that Oklahoma and Texas have also banned this t-shirt. Is this true ?

    http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2007/06/t-shirt-ban-res.html

  • ||

    Sorry, misposted. meant for above article.

  • ||

    I guess it all goes back to the tricky question of the balance of individual rights versus collective rights.

    That is an easy one. The collective has no rights. Rights only belong to the individuals that make up the collective.

  • ||

    Agreed that it's a tricky question. I'm not sure exactly what "collective rights" are.

    For example, isn't the argument for banning trans fats posited on a claim that there is an individual right to be protected from purveyors of unhealthful food? What would the collective right be -- the right of our aggregate coronary bypass statistics to be lower?


    By "collective rights" I'm talking about the right of a community to govern itself. For example, in the view of libertarians, Mass simply does not have the right to decide for itself if it's going to allow the sale of trans fats. In my opinion, that means that the people of the state have actually lost liberty because they are no longer allowed to have self-rule.

  • ||

    That is an easy one. The collective has no rights. Rights only belong to the individuals that make up the collective.

    So if I steal somebody's stuff, "the people" cannot press charges against me?

  • ||

    A 'right' is something that places no buden on others,such as free speech.We have a rule of law to protect these rights.If you steal something you've violated their property rights.As a man once said,the right to swing your fist stops at my nose.

  • Mike||

    Dan T., please provide a list of those "certain things that governing bodies should not be allowed to do in any case" and your basis for choosing those 'things.'

  • Raymond Luxury Yacht||

    And in my case, that means I get a lot of leeway!

  • ||

    Would y'all please stop encouraging T-Nad? Trolling you people gives him wood.

  • Scooby||

    mediageek,

    As he spills more seed on the rocks, less will be available to pollute the gene pool.

  • Anonymo the Anonymous||

    In my opinion, that means that the people of the state have actually lost liberty because they are no longer allowed to have self-rule.

    Is he simply abiding by some provision of an "Ensuring Orwell's Relevance Act" I missed?

  • ||

    In my opinion, that means that the people of the state have actually lost liberty because they are no longer allowed to have self-rule.

    So, wait a minute, a majority's right to force me not to eat something trumps my right to choose what to eat? What about my personal right to "self-rule"?

    People don't have any rights whatsoever collectively. They have rights individually.

  • Chocolate Lover||

    How in heaven's name will this ban be enforced? Has anyone read how Massachusetts intends to do this?

    I guess they could have inspectors visit stores and check- same thing with restaurants. Still, what a waste of taxpayer money and enforcement at church bake sales and such would be impossible.

    Dumb...dumb...dumb...

  • ||

    People don't have any rights whatsoever collectively. They have rights individually.

    That's simply not true - for example, the state of MA has the right to ban trans fats from being sold in restaurants. They also have the right to outlaw murder and other crimes.

  • Mike||

    That's what I expected, Dan. Avoid the questions you cannot answer.

  • Mike Laursen||

    So I think Mike has somewhat unfairly taken both quotes out of context to make it appear that I'm contradicting myself.

    Hmm. I think you should have quit rethinking while you were ahead. You were very clearly contradicting yourself.

  • ||

    So if I steal somebody's stuff, "the people" cannot press charges against me?

    If you steal somebody's stuff, it is his rights that are violated, not some collective. "The people" do not need to press charges. The victim is perfectly able to do so.

    For example, in the view of libertarians, Mass simply does not have the right to decide for itself if it's going to allow the sale of trans fats.

    In the view of libertarians, Mass does not have the right to make laws that violate the rights of individuals. Governments should only make laws that protect rights, not laws that violate them.

  • ||

    Obesity has become a major public health problem in the United States and the world in recent years. Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer. Public Health officials are scrambling to adopt programs that will address this issue. Public Health programs will need to use the law as an important tool to combat this threat. Even more than ever, though, this problem will strain the fine line between personal liberty and the needs of the many. It will require a multi-faceted approach, with an ecological perspective. This will prove challenging for Public Health practitioners because it will demand a complete use of all the legal apparatus available. This will include the Federal, State, and Local government. However, this ban of trans-fat in Massachusetts, New York City and other jurisdictions is not the answer to the problem. First, we have a long history that banning things does not solve problems, alcohol being a good example. Further, while it is only marginally clear that this is a lawful measure by Massachusetts, it absolutely raises some perilous issues of personal liberty. The benevolent Public Health Department decides today that for my own good they are not going to allow me to eat anything with trans-fat, what will they decide on my behalf tomorrow? Red meat? The liberty that we enjoy is not likely to be withdrawn in one fell swoop, but one trans-fat ban at a time.

  • Polina||

    mediageek: You totally hit the nail on the head. Reuter's just reported that Oxford researchers are advocating a "fat tax" (in Britain, thankfully) on salty, sweet and fatty foods. So yeah, junk food is going the way of the cigarette. Check it out here: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSL1254236520070712?feedType=RSS&rpc=22&sp=true


    thedailyslant.com

  • ||

    Dan T,

    The state doesn't have rights. The state govt has the duty to protect the rights of the individuals within its borders; that is where its lawmaking powers come into play. You'll notice that all the obvious examples you bring up (theft, murder) in which we all would agree that the govt should intervene, involve an individual's rights being violated.

    If a person eats trans fats, is there an individual whose rights are they violating?

  • Robert||

    "I have seen a trans-fat free future, and it is a potato chip cooked in sunflower oil that tastes like my ass."

    The fleshy part or the duty part?

    The hydrogen we save we can now burn to run vehicles. Or is this going to use up more hydrogen to fully hydrogenate oils to get rid of the trans fat that way?

  • ||

    (Dan T.) "I'd probably follow with a remark about how Mr. Sullum does not seem to think that the people of Massachusetts are capable of coming up with the rules of their state, and should instead bow to his ideas as to what they should be."

    Were the "people of Massachusetts" actually consulted in this matter or did a bunch of self-righteous politicians just make this draconian decision by themselves like they typically do?

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