Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is getting ridiculous

Should the government outlaw trans fats? I can understand banning smoking in restaurants, workplaces and other public areas since second hand smoke affects the health of others and is especially dangerous to those who already have respiratory problems, but isn't banning approved food ingredients going a bit overboard? Will we all soon be having the government decide our menus for us? Most of us know why they're unhealthy: Trans fats clog arteries, have been linked to heart disease and may raise the risk of diabetes. But lots of things that we eat everyday are bad for us. White bread is bad, sugar is bad, etc. Will these things be banned next? Chocolate cake? Ice Cream? Skittles?

8 comments:

Toze said...

It's not about banning food but it is about banning an unnecessary ingredient which is known to be nothing but harmful to the people who consume it:

Treating vegetable oil with hydrogen gas results in oil with dangerous, heart-disease-promoting trans fats. Though small amounts of trans fats also occur naturally in milk and beef, factory-created trans fat is artificial and totally unnecessary in the food supply.

http://transfreeamerica.org/

Stardust said...

toze - then if it is "dangerous" shouldn't the U.S. FDA UNapprove it nationally?

What about high fructose corn syrup? Asparteme? Red and Yellow dyes which cause allergic reactions in sensitive people? Sugar is bad, caffeine raised blood pressure. White bread is not good for people. Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated coconut oil is often used in non-dairy...etc. etc.
Is the government now going to start planning our meals and deciding FOR us what we can and cannot eat? How far will this go? Will the government eventually turn us all into vegan? My son would say that this is the best choice, but that is the key word...CHOICE.

AND if a substance is harmful...it seems it would be unapproved nationally, not just in the two most junky food loving cities in America.

Toze said...

Stardust1954, not to start a flame war here, but if you're quoting someone do try and quote something they actually said. I described trans-fat as harmful, not as dangerous. How harmful something is might or not be considered dangerous.

Also, you're correct, maybe the FDA should look into the possibility of banning it or putting limits on its use (as Denmark has done), as maybe it should do the same regarding other industrial cooking methods/ingredients such as the ones you mentioned. It's not a matter of restricting people's choice, it's a matter of a government watching out for its people's well being by safeguarding them from perceived corporate greed tactics. That is, after all, one of the many purposes of government.

Also, if I recall correctly the U.S.A. is a federation of states, each with its own laws and practices. Just because a federal agency doesn't deem it necessary to impose a federation wide ban doesn't mean a state government can't take measures to combat a perceived threat to the health of its citizens, so long as it doesn't contradict federal law.

As for your son and his choice... well, this government position is based on a scientific understanding and studies done on the impact that such an ingredient/cooking method has on overall public health. As far as I know the vegan myth is an unsubstantiated claim which is itself a byproduct of a quasi-religious moral understanding of human attitudes towards animals.

Then again, I could be wrong...

Stardust said...

toze - you did say harmful...my apologies for misquoting you. But harmful and dangerous to me are similar ...websters states harmful as "of a kind likely to be damaging : INJURIOUS" To me, if something is going to bring damage or injury it is dangerous. But I should not have put "quote" marks around the word dangerous as if you had said it.

To also clarify, I made it sound as if my son was a vegan...he is a vegetarian, but has been doing research and vegan diets and affects, etc. He cannot eat meat because he cannot digest it because of a problem since birth. He survived his first two years on soy formula.

Anyway, we have been having a lively discussion about this over at GifS and there are some very good opinions and thoughts that people are bringing up. Some of us feel that education is the way to go...and warning labels on products and menus like cigarettes have and let people make up their own minds.

People must make these choices for themselves. I gave the example that for every fast food joint here in Chicagoland there is a restaurant that offers a healthy alternative and business is booming at both. Many people have been making smarter choices about what they eat. Restaurants are voluntarily taking trans-fats out of their recipes. Companies are already taking this substance out of their food products. There is no need for a ban.

People know what they should do but do it anyway. Like smoking, drinking, eating Hostess Ho Hos for breakfast...it comes down to CHOICE. McDeath and other fast food places have been offering salads for awhile now and people still buy the tasty, greasy burgers and fries. Some buy the salad AND burgers and fries as if the salad will somehow cancel out the fat and calories.

So what do we do...ban fast food places and let Big Brother because people know better but won't "be good"?

Bean over at GifS wrote a great satire about this..I'll quote it here:
[pure hopeful sarcasm] Instead of banning an ingredient, they could impose a weight limit with allowances for height, build, and gender. I don’t mean that every girl should be 110 pounds (ew!), but that people should be required to remain under, say, 200 pounds. High fines for those who weigh more (or less) than their specified weight range. Special permits for sumo wrestlers and the like would, of course, be available so that they could continue their livelihoods. And those with weight gain-related health problems, such as thyroid problems. Special incentives for those who remain in an optimum healthy weight zone (+/- 20 pounds). Granted, people could eat ANYTHING they want. As long as they exercise enough to maintain their health, it shouldn’t be a problem. Along with regulations, they could have forced Dance Dance Revolution camps where people must do an hour of DDR per day. (That’s what I do, much better than going to a gym with other people.)People in this country need some fucking motivation and the thing they listen to is their damned wallets.[/pure hopeful sarcasm]

Stardust said...

this government position is based on a scientific understanding and studies done on the impact that such an ingredient/cooking method has on overall public health.

Scientific evidence has proven that smoking is hazardous to one's health and those who are even in the vicinity of the smoker, yet smoking is not banned -- just WHERE you can smoke is banned. How about starting with something that hasn't just been proven harmful, but DEADLY? How about alcohol? How many people kill their livers each year with booze...and kill others when they get behind a wheel and drive while drunk? That makes banning cooking oil seem kind of lame.

Toze said...

To also clarify, I made it sound as if my son was a vegan...he is a vegetarian, but has been doing research and vegan diets and affects, etc. He cannot eat meat because he cannot digest it because of a problem since birth. He survived his first two years on soy formula.

Not to sound like an ass or offend you or your son in any way, but your son seems to be a rare exception relatively speaking. Without the benefits of a modern and abundant human society (which is not the case for everybody)he would probably not be with you today (which btw, I'm glad for you that he is). As far as I know the vast majority of the human population on earth relies on some sort of animal protein for sustenance (as apparently he does as well). My sister tried to go Vegan once, her hair started falling off.

Some of us feel that education is the way to go...and warning labels on products and menus like cigarettes have and let people make up their own minds.

Again I'll bring up the issue of corporate greed. I can't remember in which blog I got the link from but recently I read an article which talked about how a U.S. state government (Wisconsin or Virgina, can't remember correctly) found out that tobacco companies had been increasing up to 10 times the amount of nicotine cigarettes delivered to a smoker. They were able to do this by designing the filters in order to fool the lab tests. Since when tested in smoking machines the smoke is only sucked from the tip of the filters, these were designed to dissipate the smoke throughout the filter so by the time it reached the tip of the filter the amount of nicotine measured by the machine was less than that of the legal limit. Smokers however don't just suck from the tip but cover the whole filter with their mouthes when they smoke, thus inhaling the full amount of increased nicotine dosage. Should a government ban smoking along with alcohol then? Probably not. Not because it's not the right thing to do but because it's not the realistic thing to do. The difference between a substance like alcohol and trans-fats is that there are healthy substitutes for trans-fats. Unlike alcohol I doubt that you'll see trans-fat speakeasies spring up anytime soon if this ban is put into effect.

As for cigarettes, instead of banning them they should instead ban the practice of putting into them the thousands of carcinogenic chemicals that they do with the sole purpose of making the body absorb and become more reliant on the nicotine that they're meant to deliver. They should be banned instead of merely putting a warning label on a pack of cigarettes for the same reason governments make people wear helmets and seatbelts instead of slapping warning labels on motorcycles and cars, for the same reason that materials like asbestos are banned instead of just slapping warning labels on houses and buildings, because these are things which are not an integral part of any human culture and society and which it pays more to have them removed than to waste time on a naive concept of consumer education. Half of the people in the U.S. think Genesis is a better explanation for life than the theory of evolution. Don't you think that that time and those resources would be better spent educating people on the fundamentals of science?

Anyway, I don't think there's much else we have to discuss here. We can beat this to death on minor points until the cows come home and I doubt we'll sway the other one into changing his mind. I understand that your viewpoint if one of personal freedom and choice. Mine is one that there are choices which we think we make for ourselves but which are in reality shaped by economic interests of people and companies who are more interested in profiting even to the cost of people's health, and that governments should safeguard against this type of greed.

There are many things governments ban that they shouldn't and many things they should that they don't. Making mistakes however should not be an excuse for keeping on making mistakes.

Stardust said...

Thanks for coming by toze and offering your thoughtful opinions...gives us more to think about and consider. I do agree with you about the vegan diets being possibly harmful and am not a vegetarian myself (though I do limit the amount of meat and am selective about what kind of meat I eat.) My opinion is not set in stone. I am just concerned about too much government control in our lives.

Toze wrote: Mine is one that there are choices which we think we make for ourselves but which are in reality shaped by economic interests of people and companies who are more interested in profiting even to the cost of people's health, and that governments should safeguard against this type of greed.

How can we expect the government to protect us from corporate greed when government is on the side of the corporations?

Here's a thought...maybe this whole trans-fat thing is a marketing gimmick to make even more profit? They are already advertising "NO TRANS FAT!" It's like the Healthy Choice meals and other supposedly "healthy" prepared foods that are in fact no more healthy for people than regular. Yet, the green box and the world "healthy" makes people think they are getting something special.

Toze said...

How can we expect the government to protect us from corporate greed when government is on the side of the corporations?

Well, that is a valid point some of the times. I obviously don't think it's the case on this one, and that's where it seems our views differ.

Thanks for the discussion.