Montgomery County, Maryland, has just banned the use of trans fats in food preparation.
Trans fats have been criticized on health grounds, but they apparently lower the cost and lengthen the shelf life of the baked goods in which they are used.
Moreover, according to an article in the Atlantic, trans fat “provides flavor and texture that can be hard to replicate without going back to animal fat.” So the ban on trans fats may result in increased use of saturated animal fats, which may not be much less unhealthy.
Replacement of trans fats with animal fats may have unintended negative side effects for vegetarians and religious minorities who refuse to consume certain types of animals. For example, a Hindu patron brought a class action lawsuit against McDonalds for alleging using beef fat in its french fries.
Even trace quantities of animal fat can deter consumption by avid believers or vegetarians. India’s bloody Sepoy Rebellion began after troops suspected that the gunpowder cartridges they were using were greased with tiny amounts of beef or pork fat.