Greasy Baltimore Carry-Out With Ironic Name First to Be Fined for Using Wrong Kind of Fat


A Korean-run carry-out in Baltimore's Lexington Market received the dubious honor of being the first dining establishment to be fined by the city for the trans-fat content in its food. The food stand got 40 lashes with a wet noodle and a $100 fine after failing to get their margarine up to code:

"They originally had a margarine that was above 3 grams, actually, which is very high compared to the .5 that is allowed. Then when we came back and they had replaced it, they replaced it with one that was 2 grams, so it still was too high," [Health Department agent Juan] Gutierrez said.

The owner was good-natured about the fine—he says he asked for healthier margarine after the first violation and just used what his supplier gave him—and promised to do better in the future, even though it would cost him an additional $6 a box to use trans-fat–free margarine. And the switch will only make his meals healthier on the (still-up-for-debate) margins. Trans-fatless margarine need not have any less fat as its competitors. They're just different fats.

Generally, at this point I'd argue that people who are buying food that looks like this:

mmm…. healthy

And this:


…don't think they're getting a particularly nutritionally impressive meal, and should be free to choose to eat transparently disgustingly delicious food without interference from a health inspector. But this particular take-out joint selected the unfortunate name Healthy Choice for their establishment. So they were pretty much asking for it.

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  1. Serves them right for not using butter.

  2. As a former line cook, my advice is to always remember that there’s a reason some food is cheap, and, trust me, you don’t want to know why.

    Eat at home–that way you can totally avoide trans fat or, if you’re like me, rub it all over you body and treat your kitchen floor as a slip ‘n slide.

    1. Re: Albo,

      As a former line cook, my advice is to always remember that there’s a reason some food is cheap, and, trust me, you don’t want to know why.

      I bet that, however, the cat and dog population was put in check . . . which is a good thing, no?

  3. When the inevitable research that reverses the current health establishment views on trans fats comes out (as it has done for coffee, chocolate, etc. multiple times), will these bans be lifted? Probably not.

    1. Actually, what we’re seeing now is a reversal of the former view of the health nazis that trans fat should be used instead of that nasty animal fat (like the tasty beef tallow that McDonald’s used to use for its french fries).

    2. Transfat being bad was first observed in terms of the fluffy and often reversed survey type things. But the health chemistry types eventually explained why its bad (protein cross-linking something or other).

      So this (and smoking) are the only ones I would not expect to see reversed as officially “bad” foods.

  4. I hope ‘Health Department agent Juan Gutierrez’ dies in a accident involving a giant deep fryer filled with transfat.

    1. Headline: Notorious Health Inspector Dies From Bad Sushi

  5. What would happen if he just blew them off and hoped for infrequent repeat check-ups? $100 isn’t much, and depending how much margarine he goes through, the extra $6/box might not be worth it.

      1. Fuck.

        Closed down for using unauthorized margarine.


    1. That would work if he weren’t already on the radar. Now that they are testing him, they’ll be back repeatedly.

      Of course, they probably have an escalating fine structure too, but you make a great point about the comparative point of the “box” of margarine and the fine. I wonder how much a “box” is? It sure isn’t the 1 lb box I get at the grocery store…

      1. Now that they are testing him, they’ll be back repeatedly.

        I’m guessing around lunch. And they won’t be expecting to get a bill, either.

      2. The answer to my question was in the article:
        The new margarine costs double the old stuff. So if the difference is $6, then the cost is $6 per box. So a box is probably 10 pounds – assuming he’s buying the cheap stuff in bulk at a good price.

        A quick google search shows that you can get 20 tons of margarine for import from China (FOB Shanghai) for $850. Not sure what you’d do with it, but there ya go. Apparently margarine is pretty cheap when you buy in bulk…

        1. I wonder if you could make bio-diesel out of that.

          1. 20 tons of margarine = 16tons of fats (20% water and misc-non-fat content.)

            For every 1 tonne of biodiesel that is manufactured, 100 kg of glycerol are produced. So 16 tons of fats will get you around 14 tons of diesel (disclosure: that math is as back-of-the-napkin as it gets, feel free to correct it.)

            $3/gal, 7.3lbs/gal. 14 tons ~ 3836 gal, which would cost over $10grand.

            At first glance it sounds like a good deal, but if you used the margarine to make fuel in bulk, you would have to pay fuel taxes on it. Plus a variety of other costs not included in my pseudomath, such as the methanol and lye required for the conversion, equipment, disposal of glycerol, the cost of separating the water, and a shitload of other things i’m not qualified to figure out.

            I say go for it, before anyone else catches on and the price of margarine skyrockets.

      3. In the WBAL article, the owner says the new margarine is double the price of the one he used to use. Nice for the trans fat free margarine makers.

        1. I’d bet that various members of the Maryland/Baltimore governments own stock in said low trans-fat margarine companies.

    2. What would happen if he just blew them off[]?

      Well, I suppose that’s one way to handle it.

  6. …don’t think they’re getting a particularly nutritionally impressive meal,

    I can’t agree with that. They may not think they are getting a low-fat meal, but that looks like a pretty healthy and hearty meal to me.

    1. hey, if it makes a turd…

    2. Compared to the variety of greasy Italian/Sub places in the area, that actually does look a bit healthier.

  7. this is another example of why i believe that there will never be a reduction in the size, scope and power of the bureaucracy at the federal government. it is because of do-gooders at the local, city, county and state level. change at the federal level comes from the grassroots, ie tea party etc. however the local level is mired in bans on texting while driving, bans on spice, smoking bans in public places, fighting over increasing funding for the children that all increase the power of the local level of government. these are some of the same people who then go on to get elected at the state and then federal level. until we see signs of individual freedom at the local level (and we don’t yet with very few exceptions) then there is no hope at the federal level.

    1. Your locals are nannying busybody fuckstains, perhaps.

      But mine aren’t.

      Libertarians who congregate in coastal metropolises will always be severely outnumbered by people who moved there to be ruled by dead-eyed statists.

  8. Fucking shit. They are fining restaurants for serving food than anyone can go to the grocery store and buy.

    Why can’t people understand that going to a restaurant for your food is optional? If you want healthy food with the ingredients you want in it, make it yourself.

    1. We’re working on that. I’ve commissioned my staff to draft legislation making it illegal for grocery stores to sell that stuff either.

  9. We also saw 4 murders in our city over this past weekend, while health inspectors are handing out citations for using the wrong margarine.


    1. The margarine gangs are out of control! :)))

    2. I’m sure they would argue that they can only prevent, not reverse, murder.

  10. The fact is that the people who buy from this restaurant probably get less artery-clogging foods than the patrons of Chez Snob* do in their 5,000 calorie gourmet meals.

    Of course, the patrons of Chez Snob* have a lot more political clout.

    *Made up generic name for the ultra high priced “Haute Cuisine” restaurants patronized by the boss class. There’s one or more in every mid-sized or larger city.

    1. Mmmmm, cholesterol packed brains and other various offal. Ok, back to polishing my monocle.

  11. I’m thinking that a good off season use for the large boondoggle sports venues would be to have semi regular events where the “employee of the month” at a local bureaucratic job mill were dragged out in front of a crowd that was given free admission and access to cut rate beer, then have the write up for his award be read to the crowd. While they’re dangled over either a pool filled with piranhas, or a cage full of half starved feral pigs. Oh, and to make the business model viable for this, allow gambling on the outcome, with the ‘house’ keeping 10%. Remember – it’s thumbs exposed/thumbs hidden, not the whole up or down thing. Gotta keep it real.

  12. He just forgot the neatly folded $50.00 bill in the palm of his hand when he greeted the nice health inspector

  13. Made up generic name for…

    Pro tip: “Chez” is only for places that serve quasi-ironic Denny’s trash?e.g., Chez Panisse, or Chez Zee?at prices guaranteed to keep, uh, trash connoisseurs, IYKWIMAITYD, out.

  14. Margarine? How about a roll of toilet paper?

  15. Metabolic syndrome is healthier than fascism.

  16. This is part of our future, folks. Of course, some of the commenters on H’n’R are going to love this “yeah! Stick it to those fat-pushers!” kind of Food Police nannyism, but… oh, just fuck all of you pro-statists in advance.

  17. it would cost him an additional $6 a box to use trans-fat?free margarine.

    Big Trans-Fat-Free Margarine is pleased by these developments.

  18. Huh. I was sure these ordinances would be ineffectual, lagging the market so much that by the time there was anything to enforce, there wouldn’t be any high trans fat products in use anyway. Guess I was wrong. I wasn’t counting on cheapo partially hydrogenated stuff still being around.

    1. You overestimated how much people can care about their fats. (Remember, it’s not market failure when your expectations of the market don’t bear out. All you, baby.)

  19. I was sure that the Korean

    Greasy Baltimore Carry-Out With Ironic Name First to Be Fined

    would be ironically named something like Noh Phat Punc Heer.

    1. Korean != Vietnamese.

      “Phat 85” anyone?

  20. It’s good they’ve cleaned up all those dangerous Baltimore neighborhoods so that now everyone can be safe from trans-fats. Those gangbanger trans-fats are scary as hell, let me tell you.

  21. This ridiculous shit makes me want to cuss and puke nails. I cannot begin to describe how fucking disgusted this absurd nannyist bullshit makes me.

    If it were my food stand, I would ask the inspector why he doesn’t get a real fucking job and a life. What kind of cocksucker do you have to be to spend your day going around and fining food vendors a hundred bucks because they’re not using the correct, city-approved type of margarine? I mean, really. How could you look yourself in the mirror or look your kids in the eye and tell them how daddy makes his living?

    Next: man (and his dog) die in hail of gunfire as margarine police enforce food purity law.

  22. Can’t they put up a sign that says

    “Healthy Choice” (in English)
    “Just Kidding, Fuck You America” (in Korean)

    It’s not like the shit-for-brains public servant drones would be able to figure it out.

  23. If you don’t like this guy’s food, don’t buy it. There are enough people buying his food to keep him in business. Also, what does this guy’s ethnicity have to do with anything? It’s sounds like your a backwards ignorant racist to me.

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