New York City enacted an ordinance that will ban the use of trans fats in food and cooking oils by July of 2008. The ban has been met with fanfare by some and with anger by others. Others still find themselves pondering the nature of trans fats. Trans fats are the worst kinds of fats available. They are a poison by definition. They clog arteries, raise bad cholesterol, and contribute to a myriad of other health issues. With such obvious and dire consequences staring us in the face, why make such a horrific choice? Good question.
The food industry uses trans fats in an effort to engorge profit margins and create long-term storage for food. As such, with their coveted profits at stake, they are among the chief opponents of the ban. They argue that the inconveniencies of having to revise recipes and find new suppliers are too burdening. The New York City Ban does not come into action until 2008. In most cases, this gives restaurants plenty of time to make the proper accommodations. Other restaurant owners feel the lack of trans fat will leave a bad taste in the mouths of their customers.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said “Nobody wants to take away your French fries and hamburgers – I love those things, too. But if you can make them with something that is less damaging to your health, we should do that” (www.msnbc.com). There are plenty of healthier alternatives that could be pursued. In fact, several large chains have been researching such options on their own and claim to have made some progress. They are still far from a finished product, but time will tell if they are able to replace trans fat.
One of the largest benefits of the ban is the increase of the overall health of the city. Harvard Medical School did a study on healthy eating and found that cutting trans fat from American diets would, at the very least, cut premature coronary deaths by thirty thousand people in a year. Our nation is mired in obesity, especially the children. Adults are entitled to make the choice to become overweight, but children must be educated on that choice and not have high fat food forced upon them.
The New York Ban is in a position to set the model for the rest of the nation, perhaps even the world. It could show the country that healthier eating is not so hard. The ban is a step in the right direction, and could very well spark a wildfire of change.