Trimming the Fat

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Trimming the Fat

WASHINGTON -- The Center for Consumer Freedom joined the opponents of the New York City Board of Health's proposal to ban all foods containing trans-fat from restaurants by launching a commercial criticizing the "food police."

The Center for Consumer Freedom is airing "Smash" a commercial opposing the proposal on CNN and Fox News Channel. The commercial opens with a young boy eating an ice cream cone, which is ripped from his hands. A fist smashes a piece of cheesecake to bits on woman's plate in a restaurant. In similar fashion, a pint of beer and a street vendor's hot dog are swiped from consumers' hands. The commercial states "Everywhere you turn, someone's telling us what we can't eat. It's getting harder just to enjoy a beer on a night out. Do you always feel like you are being told what to do? Find out who is driving the Food Police at"

Last week, the Board of Health proposed a ban on artificial trans-fats -- synthetic fats that are produced during the process of hardening fat to make it have a butter-like consistency called hydrogenization. Trans-fats are notorious artery-cloggers that increase bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol, Reuters reported.

Affected foods including French fries, doughnuts, cakes, chips and many other snacks will have to be pulled from menus and shelves unless retailers that make the products switch to oil, margarine and shortenings that contain less than .5 grams of trans-fat per serving. Restaurants, street vendors and every retailer in-between will be affected by this proposal, which gives retailers six months to switch to low-fat oils, and 18 months before all other food must contain less than .5 grams of fat per serving, reported Reuters.

The Center for Consumer Freedom's senior analyst, J. Justin Wilson said "Trans-fats may not be good for you -- just like too many calories or too much better isn't good for you -- but foods that contain trans-fat aren't unsafe. The Board of Health has mischaracterized trans-fat as a food safety problem so they can interfere with New York restaurant menus."

He continued, "Activist groups and overzealous politicians have politicized food to the point where the government is actually telling businesses what they can serve and telling consumers what they can enjoy. If there's E. coli in my spinach, I'll thank the board of health to intervene. Otherwise please keep your laws off my food."

Opponents in the retail industry also voiced their opinion on the proposed legislation. "We're going try to get into a dialogue with the Health Department where perhaps we can convince them to modify their proposal where it's not a broad-brush, one-size-fits-all, Orwellian regulation," Charles Hunt of the New York State Restaurant Association told Reuters.

Some of the country's restaurants have voluntarily changed their cooking oils to lower trans-fat combinations. Wendy's and Dunkin' Donuts have started programs to reduce the amount of trans-fats in food they serve, reported Reuters. Wendy's has switched to different cooking oil, while Dunkin' Donuts has been removing the fats from their bagels, muffins and cookies since 2004. It is still researching ways to make its flagship product, doughnuts, healthier while still satisfying consumers.

"We've served million of servings, and customers cannot tell the difference in taste," Bob Bertini, spokesman for Wendy's, told Reuters. "It was cost-neutral to us -- using the new oil costs no more than the old oil."

A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30 and the proposal will face a vote before the end of the year, reported Reuters.