Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The FDA as God

The FDA is now in the process of banning food manufacturers from producig foods containing trans fats. This is a God-like command if there ever was one. Indeed, it may go beyond the commands of God, since I have not been able to locate in the Ten Commandments or the Bible any mention of trans fats. Indeed, outside of a few commandments relevant to religion and false gods, the commandments align pretty well with the libertarian non-aggression principle: Thou shall not steal, thou shall not kill.

But the FDA apparently sees its mandate as one to make rules for all, that in some cases prevent individuals from voluntary exchanges, e.g., the buying and selling of foods containing trans fats. There is enough for a libertarian to object to in the banning of trans fat, in that it is a violation of the no-aggression principle. But less us grant for a moment that the FDA should have God-like powers to protect us from harm. I ask does the FDA have any humility at all? Does the FDA recognize that science is not a static thing and that it evolves that something that is considered bad for us today may be considered good for us tomorrow.

Richard Williams writes:
Several decades ago, groups deemed eggs bad because of dietary cholesterol, but we later learned that the science wasn’t exactly right about eggs. Then nuts were bad because of their high fat content, but now they’re considered healthy.
Medical opinion is now changing relative to the dangers of salt.  Diabetics were once told to completely avoid ice cream and cookies. They are now told these can be part of a balanced diet.

Yet, with these examples of changing science, the FDA deems itself omniscient when it comes to nutritional science, particularly when it comes to trans fats, although I suspect they at one time were on the wrong side of current science when it comes to eggs, nuts, salt, and cookies and ice cream for diabetics. But now they apparently think they have it all right,never to be reversed by a change in future scientific opinion.

I am not a nutritionist, I eat very few foods that have trans fats, but I consider it an outrage that the FDA should act as though it has ultimate answers. If there are people out there who choose to eat foods containing trans fats, for whatever reason, they should be allowed to do so, if for no other reason than to put a check on the crazed power freaks at the FDA, since only God is likely to know what these power freaks will try to ban next.


  1. Next up: E-Cigs!
    How dare you inhale vapor! You must inhale carcinogenic SMOKE from our partners at big tobacco. After all, they're on the plantation, doing what they're told and liking it.
    It's for the CHILDREN, you know.

    1. Good post.
      The FDAs proposed regs for ecigs are a Big Tobacco paradise.

  2. Karen DeCoster at the LRC blog just had a post about a government school in Manitoba, Canada fining a parent $10 because she hadn't included any grains in her child's lunch. The school also provided the child with Ritz crackers. Many people have come to believe that grains — especially wheat — are harmful to human health and are best avoided. I have seen my own health improve dramatically since eliminating wheat and reducing my intake of grains and other foods high in carbohydrates. But government thinks it knows best, for you and your children.

    1. The irony is that Ritz crackers contain trans fats!

  3. Karen DeCoster has also talked about how it was big government and its crony science boards (Center for Science in the Public Interest) that foisted trans fat on Americans in the 1st place with its demonizing of natural nutrient dense foods like eggs, steak, beef fat.

    Of course if the US govt stopped subsidizing all those commodity crops the relative price of healthy food would fall while the price of junk food would increase. The left seems to have a vague understanding about this but instead of calling for less govt they want more govt to regulate even more!

  4. Good timing on this. Just last night I was raging about the FDA banning chocolate eggs with toys, known everywhere in the world as Kinder Surprise Eggs. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder_Surprise#Prohibition_on_sale_or_import_into_the_United_States)

    I shouldn't have been surprised.

    Back to the topic though: the trans-fat ban has been talked about for so long, I had almost hoped they failed. I should have known better.

    The linked article doesn't say, however, when the ban will begin.

    Actually, it just says '...decided to remove trans fatty acids from the category of foods “generally recognized as safe.”' - does that mean it is actually banned? I'm not fluent on the details of how the 3-letter-agency-dictates are worded.

    Personally, I think trans-fats are bad. I also don't like raw clams or oysters (seriously, how can you /eat/ that?) But of course that doesn't mean they should be outright banned.

  5. I'm curious about the finer details of the ban. The requirement might just be 0g of trans fat per serving. If that's the case, then you have one significant figure that allows you 0.4999 grams of trans fat per serving.

    If you then reduce the size of a serving, you can then increase the percentage of the product that contains trans fats.

    The only way to eliminate trans fats is to ban hydrogenation outright. Otherwise, there is currently no way to fully remove trans fats from a hydrogenated oil. My guess is that they'll make the requirement 0g and this will open a loophole large enough to drive through.

    In other words, we'll be able to continue accumulating this stuff in our livers. Enjoy!