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"Panic du Jour" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
AFF Sentinel Vol.3 #36

In the do-gooder tradition, stretching their authority, the New York City Department of Health has banned manmade trans fats in restaurant foods.

In the first place, the whole trans fat furor summons d?j? vu, fortified with irony. It is based on statistical analysis of epidemiological studies, not cause-and-effect scientific testing. Correlations are extracted from data amassed from people's food diaries and recollections and applied to their later health history. While statistical correlations are important, they are clues to direct scientific experimentation, not the bases for overturning a whole country's nutrition and health model.

This reliance on statistical correlation is the same flawed approach that spawned the "cholesterol is bad, polyunsaturated, hydrogenated vegetable oil is good" path over 40 years ago. Having severely and irretrievably damaged the animal-protein industries, the current stampede is to save us from the very diet public health experts once promoted. They are revoking past recommendations on the trans fats they claimed were better, using the same flawed approach.

Science has since recognized risk factors for heart disease that experts ignored in their rush to blame animal products: heredity, inactivity, smoking, obesity, etc. Science later posited "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol. Now, after Pfizer halted tests of a "good" cholesterol-boosting drug, one researcher suggested that theories of improving heart health by boosting levels of "good" cholesterol are much more complicated than once thought, with different patient responses and dangerous side effects.

The naturally occurring trans fats in beef and dairy products are different from the man-made ones in baked goods and fried foods, and appear to have beneficial effects. But the principle is the same. The diets of entire countries should not be altered based on statistical analysis. Cause-and-effect scientific approaches like clinical trials should be conducted.

In the second place, the NYC Department of Health ban reminds us of Aspen and Boulder passing resolutions regarding the war in Iraq. We can't see why NYC has any business setting ingredient lists for restaurants. City departments of health are normally concerned with restaurant sanitation, food handling, school vaccination standards and quality health care. Should we allow one to set nutrition policy and interfere with the management of private food operations? No-foie-gras Chicago is said to be contemplating a similar ban.

Is such a NYC Dept. of Health prescription even legal? It appears no one's sure.

" ... there are serious legal concerns about a municipal health agency banning a product or ingredient the Food and Drug Administration has already approved," the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said.

Neither the FDA nor the American Heart Association has recommended a ban on trans fats, though they are encouraging significant cutbacks. Imagine chain restaurants, many having already spent millions reformulating some recipes but struggling with others, trying to retain taste and freshness. Now they need a special "NYC formulation" - ready or not. Suppose the do-gooders in 15 cities decide this is a brilliant idea, adding embellishments?

Ironically, to meet deadlines, some restaurants may have to switch back to the saturated fat formulations the experts decried in pushing the switch to trans fats before, the NRA noted.

Rush Limbaugh made a relevant point about the alleged "consensus" on global warming. The very word "consensus" means not science, but a vote. Science is experimentation that can be replicated by others. Science is fact. Consensus means "we don't know for sure, but our best guess is ..." Consensus is not science - but good enough for do-gooders bent on saving mankind from any possible risk.

A related NYC measure requires restaurants that have been publishing nutrition information to be punished by requiring them to post calorie counts on their menus. Ironically, if they haven't been publishing nutrition information, they don't have to post calories.

Once a nanny organization succeeds for one nutrition "consensus," others will follow. The "limited" regulations on smoking bans in public places are now often extended to private businesses on private property, with proposals for homes and in backyards.

Dr. David Kritchevsky, a venerable and respected University of Pennsylvania researcher with over 30 years cholesterol experience, called the trans fat concerns the "panic du jour," the Center for Consumer Freedom said. We think his perspective wise and hope the food industry fights such arrogant overreaching of statistical analysis, authority and freedom.

Fall AFF 2nd Anniversary & Beyond Fund Drive.

We need your check today or your visit to our website where you can use a credit card to make your contribution during our fund drive. If you prefer, send your check, made out to Agribusiness Freedom Foundation or us at the address at the bottom of this newsletter. We are heading into a Farm Bill debate which could shape the future of cattle and beef marketing, industry structure and world trade for decades. Please join with us and help make sure our independent voice is there.

To everyone who contributes the suggested minimum amount, as a "thank you" gift, AFF will send a copy of Riding for the Brand, a terrific novel that paints the picture of what the beef industry could be like in 25 years - or sooner. Author Jim Whitt's short, entertaining book shows how real beef industry people could get there.

The recent elections have made the road ahead more challenging than ever. Please help us preserve your freedom to innovate and adapt to the 21st century consumer. Thank you.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 15 December 2006 )
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