In a misguided attempt to improve the notoriously bad health of New Yorkers, the City Board of Health has banned trans fats in the restaurant industry. The ban will take place on 01 July 2007 for certain foods, and restaurants will be completely barred from using trans fats a year later. Fast-food restaurants will also be required to display the calorie content of their foods in a prominent location.
The restaurant industry opposes these regulations for several reasons:
- trans fat-free foods are more expensive;
- it will be difficult to replicate the taste of many foods (esp. fried foods) without using any trans fats (or the less than 0.5 gram/serving allowance as of 01 July 07); and
- as the City will be enforcing these regulations via regular inspection, this is an unwanted intrusion into the restaurant industry.
While the Pachyderm is quite the health-food nut herself, she strongly opposes the NYC regulations. The $200 fine will not be sufficient to pay for the costs of the inspections (unless there are legions of violations, in which case the ban will have done little good but will merely impose a type of tax on restaurants). The cost of food will increase, which will be tough for the poor and middle class New Yorkers (unlike the proposed Chicago regulation, this would apply to all restaurants, not just those doing over $20 million in annual sales). Finally, this is a ridiculous, patronising intrusion of government into business. Couldn’t they just require restaurants to list the amounts of trans fats in foods and let diners make their own decisions? Public awareness and free-market principles work in the food industry, too.