POLICY: New York Trans Fat Debate Heats Up

The Wall Street Journal reports that McDonalds and other
fast food businesses
are engaged in a last minute drive to convince health
officials in New York City to “soften” the proposed ban on trans fats in restaurants
in the five boroughs. According to the Journal, McLobbyists have approached city council member Peter Vallone and asked him to sponsor a competing measure
that would give the industry more time to make the switch over to healthier
cooking oils. Quoting from WSJ’er Janet Adamy’s piece:

The city’s board of health is scheduled to vote Tuesday on
whether to force city restaurants, from fast-food outlets to servers of haute
cuisine, to eventually remove all but a trace of artery-clogging trans fat from
the food they cook. It’s not certain yet how the board will vote, but people
following the process say the board appears likely to approve the measure.

A New York City ban would place the most significant
restrictions yet on trans fat in the U.S. since health officials began warning
of its dangers years ago. Restaurant chains will feel pressure to more quickly
replace oils in their outlets across the country, since the companies get the
most efficiency and consistency by cooking with a single recipe. Other cities
probably would follow New York.

          — John Irvine

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3 replies »

  1. As usual industry lags good public policy, nutrition and health. And as usual agri business needs to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing. Did the food industry turn to trans fats because of consumer demand, of course not. So now they think the free market consumer should be the one to get rid of them? I have been finding more package ads that say, “No Trans Fats”, but that’s not a creation of a food industry with a conscience, it’s the consumer finally taking notice of all the health warnings over the years and looking for alternatives despite what food execs want us to eat.

  2. I know the free-marketers among us will say that the consumer should work this out, but this is one of those situations in which the long-term effects are so cumulative as to make on-the-spot market choices irrelevant.
    This is like seatbelts and airbags on cars. No one wants to think of the inevitable heart disease when they’re in mid-rush.
    Sometimes, the common good is an individual good, too.