That was fast. A mere two months after an unprecedented, animal-rights-motivated ban on the sale of the French delicacy foie gras, the Chicago City Council may now be turning its attention to a ban on cooking oils containing trans fats (including vegetable oils like margarine), the dietary villain of the moment. Alderman Edward Burke, chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, greased up the slippery slope with this justification: “If we can ban foie gras, we can ban this.” Burke actually made the outrageous claim that frying foods in trans fatty oils constituted “cruelty to human beings.”
Leaving aside the uncertain science on trans fats and the shifting claims made about it by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (the group which once encouraged restaurants to switch to trans fats, but now is suing to stop it), this latest governmental intrusion will not be going down easy with many people. Fried-food-eating Chicagoan Bryan Topp told CBS: “I don’t want the city telling me what to eat. I know I shouldn’t eat it, but it should be a personal choice.” Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, a frequent friend of food freedoms, told the Council in no uncertain terms to let his people eat:
Everybody is health conscious, but is the City Council going to plan our menus? … How far should government go? How far should the City Council go? Let’s talk about health. Let’s talk about people working out. Let’s talk about good eating habits, but not to start outlawing and telling every company what they should be doing.