Posts Tagged ‘trans-fats’

And more May 17 updates

  • Google beats Perfect 10 in Ninth Circuit appeal over copyright suit over thumbnail images. (Earlier: Feb. 06, Jul. 05, Nov. 04.) [LA Times; WaPo; Bashman; Perfect 10 v. Amazon (9th Cir. 2007)]
  • Judge thinks better over Brent Coon’s attempt to intimidate local press through subpoenas. Earlier: Apr. 24. [WSJ Law Blog]
  • US Supreme Court throws out punitive damages ruling in Buell-Wilson case, lets rest of decision stand. Earlier: Jan. 4 and links therein. Beck and Herrmann also discussed the case in March in the context of a larger discussion of the appropriateness of issuing punitive damages against a company that relied on government safety standards in good faith. [LA Times; AP].
  • Big LA Times piece on the still-pending Extreme Makeover suit, where a family seeks to hold ABC responsible for an intra-household dispute over the spoils of a reality show. Earlier: Mar. 4, Aug. 12, 2005. [LA Times]
  • KFC may have won on trans-fats litigation, as David reported May 3, but they capitulate to Jerry Brown’s pursuit of Lockyer’s equally bogus acrylamide suit over the naturally-occurring chemical in potatoes (Oct. 05, Aug. 05, Aug. 05, May 05, Apr. 04, etc.). KFC will pay a nuisance settlement of $341,000 and will add a meaningless warning in California stores. (Tim Reiterman, “KFC to tell customers of chemical in potatoes”, LA Times Apr. 25).
  • McDonald’s sued over hot coffee. Again. One of the allegations is that McDonald’s failed to secure the lid, which is a legitimate negligence suit, but there’s also a bogus “failure to warn me that coffee is hot” count. [Southeast Texas Record; and a Southeast Texas Record op-ed that plainly read Overlawyered on the subject]

I can’t believe it’s not (legal) butter

“In a twist of science, the law and what some call trans-fat hysteria, [New York City] wholesale bakers are being forced to substitute processed fats like palm oil and margarine for good old-fashioned butter because of the small amounts of natural trans fat butter contains.” (Kim Severson, “Trans Fat Fight Claims Butter as a Victim”, New York Times, Mar. 7). More: Feb. 15, 2005; Jun. 14, Jul. 30, Sept. 27, Oct. 16, Dec. 5, Dec. 10, 2006; Mar. 3, 2007.

“Back to basics, Dr. Frieden”

While the NYC Health Commissioner was squandering the city’s credibility on trans fats (“totally replaceable“, you betcha) and hatching Big Brother schemes for diabetic-watching, the traditional and basic functions of his office, like keeping rats out of restaurants, were going untended, notes an editorial in the Post. “The Taco Bell in question had received a, you should pardon the expression, clean bill of health from one of Frieden’s restaurant inspectors 24 hours before the rats were taped doing their “Happy Feet” impressions last Thursday morning. …Of course, if the Taco Bell rats had been smoking, Frieden would have been there to nail the door shut himself.” Andrew Stuttaford at NRO thinks it’s long past time for Frieden to go. (cross-posted from Point of Law).

WHYY Philadelphia, “Radio Times”

I was a guest this morning on host Marty Moss-Coane’s radio program, debating Yale professor Kelly Brownell on proposed trans fat bans. For more information on that and other food issues, see this site’s Eat Drink & Be Merry page.

P.S.: Prof. Brownell claimed the proposed New York City regulation banning most uses of trans fats wouldn’t be burdensome to restaurant owners, and quoted the owner of the Carnegie Deli, which has managed to dispense with most (though not all) use of those fats. Through the miracle of Google I was able to track down the New York Times’s coverage as we spoke and so was able to read the audience the entire quote from Carnegie Deli owner Sanford Levine, which included a portion Prof. Brownell was not so eager to quote: “They shouldn’t tell a businessman how to run a business,” Levine said. “They can make suggestions, but I don’t think it should be the law.” Prof. Brownell also claimed that there had been no great outcry in New York over the rules. The Times’s headline told a different story: “Big Brother in the Kitchen? New Yorkers Balk“.

Appearances: NPR, ABC “World News Tonight”

I was a guest this afternoon on Michelle Martin’s live National Public Radio talk show, “Talk of the Nation“, discussing New York City’s proposed ban on most uses of trans fats in restaurants. ABC News “World News Tonight” also had me comment for a news segment on the issue planned for tonight’s broadcast.

On NPR, NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden claimed that it is always possible to duplicate the taste and other gustatory qualities of a trans fat recipe using other fats. For an example of a business that stumbled by buying into this particular premise, see Jun. 30 (West Virginia potato chip maker Mister Bee).

P.S. On the NPR audio clip, check out the section just before I come on where host Martin, interviewing Frieden, does a blind taste testing of two wafer cookies, one made with trans fats and one without. And here’s a mention by Bonnie Erbe at (Sept. 27)(attributing to me “typical eloquently opinionated New York style”).

NYC plans to ban trans fats

Few Gotham restaurants paid much heed when city health commissioner Thomas Frieden announced supposedly voluntary curbs on the use of partially hydrogenated fats, so now the city is planning on making the restrictions mandatory. Among many, many foods that will apparently need to be either reformulated or bootlegged: Krispy Kreme “Hot Original Glaze” doughnuts. In the New York Sun, reporter Russell Berman quotes my reaction: “When is Nurse Bloomberg planning to let us fill up our own plates?”. (“City Wants to Ban Some Fatty Foods in Restaurants”, Sept. 27; “Freedom Fries” (editorial), Sept. 27).

Healthier potato chip? Better ask customers first

The mandatory-health movement is seeking to curb restaurants’ use of trans fats, often by way of lawsuit-filing (see Jun. 14) and legislation (e.g., “Alderman proposes trans fat ban”, AP/Bloomington, Ill., Pantagraph, Jun. 30, on Chicago alderman Edward Burke). So why don’t foodmakers just do the right thing and banish the offending ingredients? Parkersburg, W. Va.-based Mister Bee, the only producer of potato chips in West Virginia, found out the hard way when it replaced its hydrogenated oils with healthier cottonseed oil in its frying formula. It soon backed off after a 6 percent drop in sales and a steady flow of angry calls from buyers. The “new chip drew immediate reactions from customers who said if they wanted healthy, they wouldn’t be eating chips. Fans of the old chips said the new chip was darker in color, greasier and left an aftertaste. Mister Bee President Alan Klein acknowledged there was a ‘noticeable difference’ in the new chip’s taste after being in the package for a couple of days. The company tried modifying its recipe by using different oils, but consumers still didn’t like the new chip.” (“Customers Pan ‘Healthy’ Potato Chips”, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Jul. 19).

Foie gras and slippery slopes

Chicago’s recently enacted ban on the delicacy (Apr. 27, May 4) has got Alderman Edward M. Burke thinking: now that we’ve started, why can’t the city ban less healthy frying oils and that sort of thing too? (Fran Spielman, “Alderman wants to limit fatty, fried fast food”, Chicago Sun-Times, Jun. 8).

More: In April, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by a cardiologist who averred:

Food calories are so pervasively and inexpensively available in our environment that they should be regarded as a pollutant. Just as an asthmatic can’t help but inhale pollutants in the air all around him, we Americans cannot help but ingest the calories present in the environment all around us.

(John G. Sotos, “A Modest — and Slimming! — Proposal”, Apr. 7). The Consumerist (Apr. 13) and Rogier van Bakel (Apr. 18) react with appropriate scorn. And a new report commissioned by the federal government proposes that the feds jawbone restaurants into reducing portion sizes (“FDA Report Urges Restaurants to Help Downsize America”, AP/Washington Post, Jun. 3). See also Radley Balko, Apr. 21.