Third Party & Independents Archives

Oh Deliciously Deadly Trans Fats!

We know the stuff in them will inevitably kill us, but who doesn’t occasionally indulge in a handful of hot and crispy French fries or a box of icy-glazed donuts? New York doesn’t care if you do, just as long as those delectable treats don’t contain any artery-clogging trans fats by July 1 of the new year. Is this law against trans fats necessary?

As a follower of the trans fat threat long before it became a widely known fact that said hydrogenated oils are potentially worse than saturated fats, I knew it would be a matter of time before they would be legally unwelcome in public restaurants.

But even as the first city to ban trans fats in public establishments, NYC is hardly the driving force behind the movement to eliminate trans in the food we consume. When the public became aware of trans fats a few years back, companies began finding new ways to prepare their products without compromising taste - and with much success.

Can you tell the difference between an Oreo today and one you enjoyed five years ago? How about a Doritos chip? Did you even know a difference existed? With companies making the transition on their own why are city legislators trying to get involved when they clearly don't have to?

Universal followed Disney having just announced that hey will begin phasing out trans fats from there theme park menus in 2007. Before you know it you won't be able to find a product with trans fats anywhere.

The point is that government intervention is not always necessary. When it does step in the consequences can be worse than the problem it tries to resolve. In an effort to protect the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke, countless restaurants and businesses found themselves closing down after devastating smoking-bans sent smokers home early with fuller wallets.

In Florida the law is extremely tough on restaurant owners and one friend of mine in particular really felt the crunch. Apparently Florida legislators and those in other states believe they should be able to decide how private restaurants should be run, even though no one is ever forced to go into one and inhale secondhand smoke. You know what you're getting into when you venture into an establishment frequented by smokers.

Similarly, you know what you're doing every time you chomp into a greasy hamburger. And by all means if that's what you want to do then you should be allowed to do it. Fortunately companies are smoothly switching from trans fats to healthier oils with not much of a cost adjustment, and patrons are hardly noticing.

Most are doing it voluntarily, and so far the NYC trans fat ban hasn't resulted in any businesses closing down. But we should not be comfortable with the government prying itself into the restaurant industry. Now it's a trans-fat ban, but what will it be tomorrow? Portion restrictions, carb limits? I wouldn't be surprised by any of it.

Posted by Scottie at December 30, 2006 10:27 PM
Comments
Comment #200936

When will NYC make health insurance companies lower their rates?

Posted by: dawn at December 30, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #200938

It might be your resturant but its my health. If your proud of the fact that you serve trans fats then display it on your menu so I can choose to avoid it. Of course to save money you will continue to use it until such time as it costs you to do so. So because you cannot be trusted with my health you must be regulated. So thank you new york.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 30, 2006 11:43 PM
Comment #200944

Sorry on the second hand smoke driving some buisness out of buisness, However my experience here in Oregon in the University towns that have bars that are not allowed to have smokeing in them actually saw an increase in the number of people useing them. Go figure you eliminate something the majority of us don’t like and we may actually start going to the bars. This isn’t the 50’s thru the 80’s smokers are a minority and us non-smokers don’t care about your health but we do care about ours.
Oh, yeah tell that waiter at the bar who WORKS their she/he doesn’t have to show up when people smoke. Then I will believe the no one is being forced to be their arguement.
I agree we need to limit government but lets be realistic also. I am pretty sure you are right on the trans-fat issue, in the end $ will eliminate it. But it takes a little prodding to get the last of the last. I can look at the packaging on my tortilla chips and see they have 0grams of trans fat. What tells me your resturant has 0grams of trans fat in your fries/ chicken-fried stake, ect. I don’t at least not in a way I can easily see and can accordingly adjust my spending habits. So yes I can see why they are doing this, the resturant industry in NYC could beat this by publicly showing they have already or are in the process of going trans fat free, but understand people want proof before they say we don’t need the law.

Posted by: timesend at December 31, 2006 2:05 AM
Comment #200949

If the people expect assistance from Medicare and Medicaid, then they must accept legislation designed to control the costs of the those programs for the payers into them.

That said, prolonging life inherently drives the costs Medicare/Medicaid up. It is kind of like an Iraq problem - for many, all answers lead to poor results - especially many Republicans. We’ll have to wait and see if Democrats share the same “affliction” on Medicare/Medicaid :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 31, 2006 8:24 AM
Comment #200955

I really have no trouble with the trans-fat ban, but in reality there is no way that government can control every facet of our lives. At an extreme what could government do to control our diets? Issue each of us some sort of monthly “ration” cards so we can’t buy too many Krispy Creams or pork chops? I think it’s impossible to protect people from themselves. The failure of the 18th amendment stands as a shining example.

Re: smoking bans. While I don’t smoke I’ve always thought that if a private business prominantly displays a sign at each entrance stating “Smoking Allowed in this Establishment” that should be sufficient. I can then choose not to enter their establishment. I should not be able to force them to change their policy or to forcibly change the behaviour of their clientel.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 31, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #200962

KansasDem, the real hypocrisy is government suing the tabacco producers for inflicting harm upon the people and not spending a dollar of the suit award to create smoking cessation clinics which smokers can check into to quit their addiction. Then the government has the gall to raise taxes on the product and profit from the people’s addiction (half of whom want to quit and would gladly check into a cessation program if they could afford it.)

This is the epitome of how out of touch and uncaring our politicians have become toward their constituents. They would rather spend on some popular pork project so they can include it in their reelection speech, than actually work for the good of the people.

Then there is the ulterior motive. Politicians may see longevity as the real problem of the future and perpetuating smoking actually reduces longevity - hence let them smoke as long as we can tax the addiction some more.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 31, 2006 11:20 AM
Comment #200965

If you criminalize trans fats, then only criminals will eat trans fats. I can see it now: a black market in fatty foods. People smuggling tortilla chips fried in trans fats over the Mexican border.

But in all seriousness, where does this nanny state end? They regulate our free speech with so called “campaign finance” laws, and now they tell us what we’re allowed to eat.

Before these busy-bodies are finished, we’re going to have legally mandated bed-times. Just let Big Brother sing you a lullaby and tuck you in at 8 pm.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 31, 2006 11:27 AM
Comment #200971

David, whether we’re talking about smoking, eating fatty foods, not eating your vegetables or staying up too late on weeknights, it’s none of the government’s damn business.

You suggest that the governement’s tobacco lawsuits are hypotcritical when they don’t fund smoking cessation clinics. Well, how about this idea: the government should get their dirty noses out of our private lives. They’re doing a good enough job screwing up what they do already without taking on additonal authorities over every minute aspect of our lives.

Some might say that smoking and fatty foods cost taxpayers money, so therefore it’s not just effecting the person who makes the choice to indulge in those behaviors. True enough.

But if you don’t exercise three times a week, if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, even if you have a high pressure job and don’t get enough sleep, you are running major eventual health risks. So does this mean the government should plan our meals, force us at gunpoint to go to the gymn? Where does this crap end?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 31, 2006 11:44 AM
Comment #200972

David,

“the real hypocrisy is government suing the tobacco producers for inflicting harm upon the people and not spending a dollar of the suit award to create smoking cessation clinics which smokers can check into to quit their addiction.”

The real hypocrisy, is the government, while taxing and penalizing smokers for their habit, still subsidises the tobacco farmer to the tune of half a billion dollars.

Go figure.

Posted by: Rocky at December 31, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #201015

My grandfather was a tobacco farmer. The “market controls” established by government have never made much sense to me. I recognize that it made a lot of small tobacco farms survivable, but that should have only been a short term solution to a longer term problem.

As to smoking bans and trans fat bans, I think that is absurd. Educating the public as to their dangers makes sense, banning them seems a bit of big brother. I doubt seriously that businesses have closed down due to these bans. I have seen no stats that claim this. Perhaps some tobacco shops might close if the market shrinks.

I work in construction and a few hospital and American Heart Association sites did ban smoking on their property. While one might expect this of these organizations, it still seems a bit autocratic and overreaching. It seems to me that smokers are being turned into pariahs. This is PC gone wild. As we become more and more urbanized, we seem to lose more and more freedom.

Posted by: gergle at December 31, 2006 5:06 PM
Comment #201033

“the real hypocrisy is government suing the tabacco producers for inflicting harm upon the people and not spending a dollar of the suit award to create smoking cessation clinics which smokers can check into to quit their addiction. Then the government has the gall to raise taxes on the product and profit from the people’s addiction”

David,

You’re right. It goes far beyond the tobacco issue also. Certain taxes have been put in place over the years to pay for certain things. When people look at the entire federal budget it’s all lumped into one big pie. Of course that’s how our government has learned to spend our money. If one account runs low, hell bells, just dip into another! It’s gone on so long it’s all become one big slush fund.

Alcohol should be taxed in such a manner that it covers the cost of alcohol related illness. Tobacco likewise. Social security withholding is identified seperately from federal income tax on your pay stub, as is Medicare. It’s unfair to lump it all together on the other end.

It seems simple to me. Each and every tax should serve a certain purpose (could be broad or narrow) but the revenues from that tax should be seperate from any other. I’ve been married and divorced three times, I’ve taken care of my children’s college funds, I’ve served as guardian/conservator for my mother, I’ve operated my own business and managed other’s businesses twice. Never, ever, did I mix the finances from one into another.

We should be able to expect as much from our government officials. When they speak of balancing the budget they should say “budgets”. The words “lock box” don’t sound stupid or laughable to me.

Posted by: KansasDem at December 31, 2006 7:28 PM
Comment #201048

I’m not sure what is autocratic and overreaching about Hospitals and American Heart Association banning smoking at their sites. I mean, it would be a little hypocritical for them to do otherwise. Here they are, telling you second hand smoke is a health risk, and they’re exposing you to it.

On the trans fats things, I think its a silly thing to ban, though I don’t object to businesses removing it from their cooking processes.

On the subject of smoking in bars? I’ve been in a few and it’s positively oppressive. Went to a nightclub once and I could hardly breathe, the smoke was so thick. My clothes ended up stinking of it. It’s one thing for somebody to go smoke outside. It’s yet another for somebody to do that in an enclosed environment, and share in the consequences of their unhealthy addiction.

My view on food and smoking regulations in general is that people should not be called upon to take risks they haven’t been informed about, and American should not have to pay for the ruthless way some people satisfy the profit motive.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 31, 2006 11:16 PM
Comment #201065

Congress banned smoking in all federal buildings with one exception. Congresspersons and aides may still smoke in their designated halls in D.C.

Talk about the rule of man instead of law. The hypocrisy is incredible. I will continue to assert that as long as Politicians have one set of laws for themselves and their favorites and another for everyone else, the public has the obligation to vote out incumbents until we have one law in this land applicable to all equally and fairly, without exception for wealth, power, or influence.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2007 1:37 AM
Comment #201066

“Congresspersons and aides may still smoke in their designated halls in D.C.”

Are you sure? I mean, are you just pulling my leg? If you’re serious that’s just downright ridiculous.

You can’t be serious.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 1, 2007 2:10 AM
Comment #201068

KansasDem, dead serious. Saw this reported on C-Span or MSNBC last week. They exempted themselves for designated interior smoking rooms in federal bldgs. on Capitol Hill.

It is not rediculous at all. Congress has been excepting themselves for all kinds of things. They passed laws declaring it illegal to use taxpayer dollars to campaign. But, they themselves use taxpayer dollars constantly to selectively write mail to their constituents highlighting items their constituents will vote for and not informing them of actions their constituents would not vote for. That is campaigning by any measure.

They write themselves a taxpayer subsidized health care plan, while legislating the rest of us seek privatized health care plans and adjuncts like supplemental Medicare coverage for the donut hole.

They defend right to work laws of the states, and legislate to move millions of hourly wage workers to salaried positions increasing the national work week to something like 44.4 hours per week without overtime pay, 50 weeks per year, while they themselves put in just around 100 days work for a full year’s compensation in Congress - at taxpayer expense, of course.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2007 8:11 AM
Comment #201085

David,

I don’t usually agree with you, but you are spot on with your posts here.

L.O.,

You are correct about the sheer silliness of a trans fat ban.

Government was NEVER meant to be a nanny. Government was NEVER meant to wet nurse us from cradle to grave.

Government was meant to GOVERN. That’s why we call it Government…not “cradle to grave”ment…or “nanny”ment.

This is nothing more than big brother government intruding into our lives once again.

Posted by: Jim T at January 1, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment #201093

Jim T., I am convinced that if you take the common sense of conservative voters and combine it with the common sense of liberal voters, cut politicians out of the loop entirely, Americans could solve nearly all of our problems in pretty short order. The difference between liberal and conservative common sense is very small. The difference between liberal and conservative politicians is vast.

The way voters can inject common sense into government is by adopting Vote Out Incumbents awareness and strategies that target the irresponsible, incompetent, and corrupt incumbents who thrive on political differences and dividing these United States into red and blue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 1, 2007 1:45 PM
Comment #201116

Stephen, Do you make demands of the lifestyle choices that the yard man who mows your yard ( presuming you hire one)?

If I feel that the karma of only Catholics and Hindus is acceptable to me, should I include that stipulation be enforced on my multimillion dollar project that may affect thousands of contractors and subcontractors, and may be a significant portion of the business activity in my community?

Many Construction workers smoke and it is stressful for them to be without nicotine all day and do their jobs. It isn’t a requirement in the general industry. Why should these folds be discriminated against, when it is clear there is no adverse affect to others in an open construction enviroment?

What is oppressive to me is the finicky few who insist on regulating the lifestyles of others. In other words, if you don’t like smoky bars, don’t go to them.

Posted by: gergle at January 1, 2007 5:41 PM
Comment #201160

David,

I couldn’t agree more. Politicians whose sole goal is to control every aspect of our lives under the guise of “protecting” us from harmful things need to be voted out of office post haste. Portions of government whose sole purpose is to inject heavy handed government into our lives need to be abolished.

“Smaller and more responsive government” should be our watchwords.

Posted by: Jim T at January 2, 2007 11:45 AM
Comment #201179

“What is oppressive to me is the finicky few who insist on regulating the lifestyles of others. In other words, if you don’t like smoky bars, don’t go to them”

Very true and very wise words Gergle!
But I am afraid those “finicky few” you speak of, now control our govt and things are only going to get worse.
Government is now dictating that we have the right to not be offended, what to eat, who to marry, who to care for, what, where and from whom to purchase from, etc… and it is not going to stop.

Posted by: kctim at January 2, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #201183

It’s not the people going into restaurants. It’s the people working restaurants.

Personally, I’m all for both bans. This stuff is really unhealthy, and I don’t think it should be in food or in my face. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an ex smoker who occasionally LOVES to light one up in a bar, etc. but the cost as a society is too high for it to be legal.

You want to lower health care costs? Ban smoking, and legally require people to have health care. Give State sponsored health care (it only costs a dollar or two) to the homeless and indigent. As a society we can choose when an individual liberty is too costly for us as a whole. People used to get angry about the laws requiring people to wear seatbelts.

Posted by: Max at January 2, 2007 2:00 PM
Comment #201185

The difference between second hand smoke and trans fats is choice. When I go to a restaurant that posts their smoking options I can choose to go there or elsewhwere. With trans fats the restaurants do not provide any information on what is used and therefore I have no choice. If restaurants would provide legitimate information on what foods contain or are cooked in trans fats then regulation would not be necessary. Unfortunately because of the low standards set by the business community state regulation is needed to ensure the people have an educated choice on whether to eat plastic or not.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 2, 2007 2:02 PM
Comment #201186

“As a society we can choose when an individual liberty is too costly for us as a whole”

Such as our right to privacy or freedom to marry who we love?

Posted by: kctim at January 2, 2007 2:05 PM
Comment #201214

j2t2,

“The difference between second hand smoke and trans fats is choice.”

I agree… with second hand smoke it is easy to identify a big cloud of cancerous smoke.

You can’t exactly walk into the Olive Garden and see if they put trans fat and MSG into your pasta.

I think this could be a result of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy the country is beginning that has become so wide spread.

It is often what we can’t see and don’t know that will be our ultimate undoing in the end.

Like when a habitual drug user dies of toe cancer that is brought on by a certain laundry soap.

If we spent as much time discovering our world as we did restricting it, there would be fewer risks to our livelihood.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 2, 2007 7:20 PM
Comment #201216

Bryan, Livelihoods need not go by the wayside or transfats. Its a relatively simple manner of changing to other readily available options. The whining over the state taking action to protect the consumer is rather silly considering its a readily available fix. The problem we have is allowing the greedy to get away with this crap then claiming nanny state when state government is forced to step in.
If nothing else revise your menus to show what foods you serve have trans fats in them. Let the consumer decide. But no instead its nanny state,nanny state because the irresponsibile restaurteer refuses to make simple changes.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 2, 2007 7:49 PM
Comment #201231

for not or.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 2, 2007 11:24 PM
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