Everything’s bigger in New York — especially the government. That was the message sent by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene when that august agency announced yesterday that it would consider banning trans fats from restaurants and requiring restaurants to print calorie-counts wherever the government dictates, namely on menus and menu boards. Naturally, the food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) are breaking out the alcohol-free champagne substitute, since CSPI’s been beating the anti-trans fat drum ever since … well, since CSPI stopped beating the pro-trans fat drum.
For our part, we told USA Today this morning that the NYC menu intervention is “a solution in search of a problem,” since Americans already “know that a Diet Coke has fewer calories than a milkshake.”
New York is no stranger to meddling government regulators who are pretty sure that they know better than the people they ostensibly represent — especially the poor. Criticizing City Councilman Joel Rivera’s proposal to zone away fast food restaurants in areas where people actually want them, the New York Post wrote recently: “Poor people in particular, in his view, are in need of his wisdom – because they’re not only fat, they’re stupid.” And we’re sure the proposal has earned the adulation of Chicago’s perpetually activist City Council, which is busy entertaining the same idea after spending precious time and effort banning foie gras on laughable animal-rights grounds.
Of course, the science about trans fat is less clear than Big Brother would care to admit. And in a cruel twist of irony, the menu labeling requirement will only be imposed upon those restaurants that already provide the information in a consumer-friendly format. If they stop providing this nutrition information by next March 1 (when the proposal is to take effect), they won’t have to do a thing. Want to bet what happens on February 28?