New York City is sliding ever closer to a full-out ban on using trans fat in restaurants, the sort of move we have decried in the pages of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News. And now another voice has joined the chorus on the side of food free choice and common sense. The American Heart Association (AHA) has condemned the proposed trans fat ban for its “potential for unintended and adverse consequences, such as restaurants returning to the use of oils high in saturated or animal-based fat if healthier oils are in short supply,” the Post first reported last night.
Contrary to the assertions of New York City health commissar Thomas Frieden, there simply isn’t enough oil available in the supply chain that’s healthier, cost-effective, and tasty. If it really is as simple as Frieden has claimed, KFC would have started its own oil change earlier and scored even more positive publicity than it has. Even food police chief Michael Jacobson at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) briefly acknowledged the virtues of capitalism with his admission that the company’s change “will give KFC a competitive edge.”
In short, the market is moving away from cooking oils that use trans fat. Regulators like those in New York City (and in Chicago, and in New Jersey) are not happy with the pace set by supply and demand (largely because said regulators don’t get to set the pace), so they’re trying to speed up the change. Problem is, the food cops are likely to set off a stampede in the wrong direction … just like they did when they got people to switch to eating trans fats in the first place. Leading anti-trans fat academic Walter Willett has owned up to his role in the transition, and while CSPI doesn’t like to admit its own complicity in upping trans fat consumption, its own Nutrition Action Healthletter archives don’t lie.