Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This is a BFD

The FDA has just announced that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer considered "generally recognized as safe," which means that artificial trans fats will be essentially gone from the U.S. food supply in three years. (There is a small amount of trans fats in beef and dairy products, but it isn't comparable to the added artificial trans fats in processed foods.)

This corrects a scientific error. When I was a youngster, margarine was touted as a healthier alternative to butter. We now know the opposite is true. Yes, olive oil is the best, but saturated fats -- typical animal fats -- aren't really harmful. Certainly they're much better than trans fats. The result of this error was that food manufacturers were systematically poisoning the U.S. population for decades.  Now that we're stopping that, we should see a substantial decline in heart attacks and strokes, and even a reduction in the incidence of dementia. This is a public health advance comparable to getting the lead out of gasoline and paint and, yes, sanitary sewers. Now if we could just eliminate tobacco . . .

When New York City moved to ban trans fats from restaurant foods, the wingnuts were outraged by what they claimed was an assault on their liberty. No. When you eat in a restaurant, you have no idea what they're putting in the food. And it turns out that you can't tell the difference when trans fats are removed. So your liberty as a diner is enhanced, since you're free from getting poisoned just as the kitchen inspector is keeping you free from salmonella.

We'll see what Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have to say about this, but I'm betting it will be nothing.

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