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Trans Fat Ban in California

As of January 1, 2010, restaurants in California won’t be able to use oils, shortenings, and margarine’s with more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. In 2011, the law will apply to baked goods. New York City passed similar laws before.

First I want to make a point clear. The law bans products with more than 0.5 grams per serving. Well, what is a serving? I looked up the Nutrition Facts Panel on all oils I have at home (olive, canola, and peanut), and the serving is 1 tablespoon. My next question is, how many servings do you think there are in your fries? Yep, you know it; more than that. So technically, it’s easy for you to get 1 gram or more of trans fat in your food.

One article on FoodConsumer.com sarcastically reported that the

new laws are good news for lawyers and attorneys

I guess the author is against this law!

And there many who are. Some are against the concept of the government enforcing too many laws. While this is a valid opinion and I won’t argue much, laws are not necessarily bad. Would people have stopped smoking in public places without a law? No. ???

Laws are a blessing. Anyone who have traveled to a country where no laws exist–or exist but never applied–can relate to that!

And there are those who argue that they don’t want the government to take away their freedom of choice. Now that’s what I’m going to argue about.

We have a choice. Regardless of the type of fat used, we have full ability to choose any meal from any restaurant we want. Just because products high in trans fats are banned, it doesn’t mean our diets are super healthy now. We still have to make conscious decisions to eat nutritious foods. So if someone is determined to eat a bad diet, they still can!

Have you ever looked at the nutrition information in fast-food restaurants or any other? Nutrition labels are there, but I wonder how many people read them. Maybe people don’t care. So why the strong objection?

When the government knows there is a bad component in your food, wouldn’t you want that food removed? Don’t people complain about the FDA not doing a good job getting poisonous products out of our food system? Why are they against this law? Doesn’t that sound like a double standard?

If anyone should be opposing these rules, it’s the chefs who have to be creative and come up with slightly healthy recipes. Us as consumers, why are we upset? We are still getting our French fries and fried chicken.

I think we should celebrate a step towards a healthier food supply!

I welcome your comments if you have a different opinion.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Evan Hughes January 4, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Would people have stopped smoking in public places without a law? No. ???

    The law was not passed to protect the health of the smoker. The law was passed to protect the health of those in forced, long-term contact with smokers, namely the employees of the establishments where smoking occurred.

    As no individuals are dropping dead of second-hand cheeseburger, the comparison is flawed.

    Laws are a blessing.

    This is the sort of statement that tends to rise the ire of the individuals who are against the passing of too many laws. I will leave it at that.

    We have a choice.

    And here we get to the reason I felt the need to pipe up. No, we law-abiding citizens do not have a choice. We have lost the freedom to do something to our own bodies. Claiming there was no loss of choice because we are still free to pick an unhealthy diet is a false comparison. When the law was passed, the government made the choice for us, and determined that it knew better than we did.

    Or did it?

    I just took a glance around my office at prepared foods I keep on hand to compensate for late nights and missed meals:
    – Cambell’s soup – advertising 0 trans fat per serving* on the front of the bowl
    – Andy Capp’s Hot Fries – 0g Trans fat, right on the front of the bag
    – Oyster crackers – 0g trans fats on the front of the box
    – Chef Boyardee Ravioli – 0g trans fats, admittedly on the back of the bowl

    Why? Because we’re already aware that it’s bad for us. We’re so aware that it’s become standard advertising fare to shun it.

    The government will never keep us completely safe, whether from ourselves or from others. And we demand it from it at our own peril.

    [*] Yes, I’m aware this is not synonymous with NO trans fat

    • Evan Hughes January 4, 2010, 2:04 pm

      Darnit. The site stripped my <quote> tags…

  • Jj January 4, 2010, 4:25 pm

    Laws can be a blessing in only some cases – too many laws and regulations is socialism; a total and complete disaster for our economy. Every time they enact laws such as these “bans”, we, the laid off, under paid, hard working consumer winds up footing the bills for the extra costs to the food industry.

    I think it’s best we all just take full responsibility for what we put into our mouths and let businesses offer what they wish. We are adults, are we not? We were given the God-given right of freedom of choice, were we not? Lawmakers are going to far, so with all due respect and understand to you view point, i must respectfully and completely disagree.

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD January 5, 2010, 9:30 am

    Thank you Evan and Jj for your responses.

    You make good points. I won’t discuss laws or their excess since this is really not my specialty.

    Yes, I agree with you that we have to take full responsibility of what we put into our mouths. But, that’s much easier when you prepare the food yourself and do your own groceries. You can read the label and make the healthy choice.

    When eating out, it’s a whole new story. You really have no clue what’s in your food. The menu doesn’t always tell what what type of oil they use for frying. I’ve worked in restaurants before and it can be a bad scene. Besides, any business–including restaurants–needs to make money, and profit is more important that choosing the healthiest oil for the consumer.

    So that being said, the law is supposed to protect the consumer and make sure restaurants are using healthier products.

    And I agree that the government can’t keep us completely safe. We have to take matters into our hands. But, I would be personally more comfortable knowing the oils used in the restaurants where I eat have almost no trans fat.

    Nour

  • Evan Hughes January 5, 2010, 6:14 pm

    I think Jj and I are going to differ in our responses to your follow-up. I am not against laws themselves. I am against the misuse of laws.

    Freedom of choice is nothing if it is not informed choice. One of the government’s roles is one to enable this. Labeling laws are a good example of this idea in the area of nutrition, and they can be carried over to restaurants as well.

    Using New York City as an example, they require restaurants above a certain size to list calorie counts on menus. They do not ban dishes above a certain calorie count, even if the calories contained in that one dish are vastly more than any human being could possibly need in one sitting/meal/day/week/lifetime. The customer then makes their own choice.

    I guess that’s the line I draw between empowering the customer, and stomping on choice.

  • Jj January 8, 2010, 10:10 am

    If you’re concerned about a restaurants food it’s your problem, not the rest of the consumers in the country – some don’t care what the food contains if it’s good. Also, it’s common knowledge that the better a restaurant, the higher the odds of better/healthier ingredients.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a chef should be able to use the ingredients he/she deems appropriate and best for his/her recipe – who are we to tell chef’s what they can put in their dishes? If we are that inclined and determined to know, it’s up to us to ask, not a nanny-state type gov’t to force someone just trying to make a living to have to drastically change their practices because people are too lazy to find out for themselves if they’re so concerned.

    Example: I will use nothing but real butter in my baking – some insist on margarine. Margarine contains trans fat. Why should I tell anyone NOT to use margarine if it is what they prefer and feel is best for them? So say, for arguments sake, I tell them “oh….you shouldn’t use that margarine, it has trans fat you bad person you!” Who really thinks they’re going to give up a long-standing preference because someone who think they have a right to force their beliefs and will onto others tells them to? Who the heck am I – or any one of us – to even THINK I/we could/should butt into anyone’s eating habits?

    Plus, over 90 percent only want good food, period. Yet that 90 plus percent has to pay – literally – for all those who think they’re “owed” a complete breakdown via laws and regulations and that they, and only they, are RIGHT – truth is, no one in this world truly knows what’s “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”. It’s all speculation and opinions of experts no one really knows anything about other than the title behind their name – which says absolutely nothing of their supposed expertise.

    You, nor I, are “owed” any such thing by the Constitution, in the US; but, it IS our right to pursue what we feel is in our own best interest(s).

    Which brings me right back to the main point – take personal responsibility and get gov’t out of our lives and especially out of our kitchens and stomachs. Doing so adds hardship, expense and declining choices to all citizen’s – both personally and in business.

  • Brian December 12, 2010, 6:12 pm

    For a country that is about to have standardized healthcare that we will all foot the bill for we should probably be a little more concerned about the obesity epidemic.