If you’re in The Big Apple and you enjoy eating, stop reading this and run to the nearest deli for one of New York City’s famous Black and White cookies or perhaps a bagel with a shmear. If you’re not quick, you may miss out on your last chance to enjoy those — and many other — New York delicacies in an unadulterated form. That’s because the city’s own diet dictator, Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden, and the rest of the Board of Health and Mental Hygiene approved an outright ban on trans fats today.
Their unanimous vote came even after the American Heart Association, along with restaurants big and small, consumers, and others, testified that the proposed ban was ill-conceived, draconian, and potentially dangerous.
Michael Jacobson and his fellow food cops at the Center for Science for the Public Interest may be popping open bottles of alcohol-free, low-cal sparkling grape juice today, but ordinary consumers suffered a significant blow to their freedom.
The Board of Health’s decision is unprecedented in its paternalistic scope. Never before has a regulatory board, let alone an elected body (which at least reports back to its constituents), banned a perfectly benign — and legal — ingredient like trans fats. We can only guess what’s left on the Board’s chopping block. But Mayor Bloomberg, who supported the ban, has suggested that obesity is the next big crisis for city government to solve. Perhaps they will ban calories, too.