New York City and New Jersey aren’t the only places where restaurants are being threatened with bans on trans fats, regardless of what they can afford or what consumers want. The Second City has already seen such a ban proposed, and regulators in both DC and Los Angeles have reflected favorably on the efforts in progress. A little further up the western edge (or is that the western fringe?) of the country, the idea is getting some attention as well.
Last night on CNBC’s “On the Money,” the Center for Consumer Freedom debated San Francisco trial lawyer Stephen Joseph of bantransfats.com, who attempted to justify … banning trans fats. We told Joseph and CNBC viewers:
We can’t go around regulating the American diet to every single calorie that we eat. Americans have to be able to make balanced choices, and the government can’t be the nanny that stands behind us and wags its finger every time we want to eat some food that might taste good.
Meanwhile, veteran food police Kelly Brownell and Walter Willett penned an op-ed in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle, saying that when it comes to trans fats: “Freedom really is the issue.” But in Brownell and Willett’s dictionary, the definition of “freedom” somehow includes banning trans fats.
The story doesn’t end there. Our opinion piece appeared in the Chronicle right beside Brownell and Willett’s, and we didn’t pull any punches. We took trans fat hysterics to task:
Thankfully, the cure for this hysteria is simple — common sense and a few deep breaths. To help with the first part, it’s good to remember something equally simple: While trans fat may not be health food, it’s not a poison warranting a government ban. Trans fat is just the food scare du jour, having taken saturated fat’s place as the dietary demon that must be exorcised.
If government really does have the prerogative to ban trans fat, we argued, what doesn’t it have the power to do?
It’s true the body doesn’t “need” trans fat. Then again, the human body doesn’t “need” fried chicken, chocolate or wine. That’s not an argument for forcibly banning them.
So what’s next? Ice cream? Birthday cake? Why don’t we outlaw skydiving? It’s not like anyone does it to commute to work, and it’s not exactly the world’s safest form of recreation. If the government’s going to be our nanny, there’s no reason to limit it to bans on food only.