Trans fats: Going, going, gone…

The Food and Drug Administration announced its intention to ban trans fats.

“Start hoarding doughnuts,” said Scott Shackford in The Food and Drug Administration is finally banning trans fats. This artificially produced lard substitute—made by using hydrogen to thicken vegetable oil—transformed our processed foods, extending the shelf life and improving the taste and texture of countless staples, including doughnuts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, and canned cake frosting. Problem was, trans fats also happened to be “amazingly bad for you,” said Aaron Carroll in Not only do these artery-cloggers increase our levels of bad cholesterol, but they actively lower your level of good cholesterol, too. By announcing its intention to blacklist trans fats last week—essentially eradicating them from our diets altogether—the FDA will prevent about 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease annually. Goodbye, trans fats, “and good riddance.”

Of course trans fats are unhealthy, said Helena Bottemiller Evich in But so are saturated fats. In fact, hydrogenated products like margarine were promoted as health foods in comparison to their saturated counterparts, like butter and coconut oil. Now we’re told they’re actually worse for us and that companies should replace them, but what’s to say scientists won’t reverse their opinion again in 10 year’s time? Meanwhile, banishing trans fats from the food supply could have unintended consequences: “America’s favorite snacks won’t last as long on grocery store shelves, they could be more expensive, and they might not taste as good.” This is what our nanny-state government does now, “day in, day out,” said Jonah Goldberg in It tells you what to eat and to do, since “it assumes you’re stupid.”

The trans fat ban is hardly an assault on human liberty, said Kathleen O’Brien in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. Food manufacturers have already cut the “artery-clogging culprit” out of their products by almost 75 percent since 2006, when the FDA required food labels to provide a breakdown of fats. Even McDonald’s and KFC have already stopped using trans fats in their fried foods. But “relax, America”: The few remaining companies using them will not suddenly start making doughnuts out of kale, or frozen pizza out of quinoa flour. They’ll simply substitute other fat. Your Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and Pringles will still be fatty, calorific, and unhealthy. So “it’s unlikely consumers will go into trans fat withdrawal.”

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