Trans-Fatty Criminals

Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH has a great article on National Review Online today about the stupidity of banning trans-fats, as New York City and Chicago have done:

…the food industry has turned the fear of [trans-fatty acids] into a brilliant marketing strategy — trumpeting the “No Trans-Fats” claim on labels. Unsuspecting customers will conclude from the absence of TFAs that products are healthier — and maybe even think they are reduced in calories — when in fact there are no health benefits. All fats, saturated or not, contain nine calories per gram.
There are no caloric savings from replacing TFAs with other fats. On October 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cash in on the trans-fat mania, announcing — while the hearings were in process — that it was phasing out all use of the much-maligned substances. KFC practically claimed that their new line of products, once TFA-free, would be eligible for the Health Food Hall of Fame.

What will replace the allegedly malicious TFAs? In the late 1980s, the Ralph Nader—inspired Center for Science in the Public Interest fomented a frenzy about the beef tallow that fast-food restaurants used to fry potatoes because it contains cholesterol-raising saturated fats — and demanded that they stop it. And what did CSPI recommend to take its place? Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils with TFAs. Now the wheel has turned and CSPI is outraged over TFAs.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the Nader Safety Army has gotten it wrong. Just to make our General Counsel Sam Kazman happy, here’s the famous photo of Ralph Nader demonstrating how well airbags work on unbelted 3-year olds at a 1977 press conference (as it turns out, airbags have actually been a net safety hazard for young children). Also, is it wise for a 3-year old to be driving a car in the first place?

What’s the penalty for child endangerment in Washington, D.C.?

By the way, Jacob Sullum over at Hit & Run also has thoughts on the ACSH report.