FDA Bans Trans Fats

[Content Note: Fat hatred; eliminationism.]

In 2013, the US Food and Drug administration announced that would "require food makers to gradually phase out artificial trans fats [which] provide no known health benefit."

Today, the FDA banned trans fats completely, giving the food industry three years to comply.

The only potential "health benefit" trans fats can provide is calories, which is a "health benefit" to someone who is experiencing food scarcity, but artificial trans fats are not the only and certainly not the best fat to provide even those calories. There are much better alternatives.

Even Crisco, the granddaddy of trans fat, now contains no trans fat.

The real benefit is to food companies, as trans fats prolong shelf life and are cheaper than saturated animal fats.

But it's not such an enormous benefit to them that many companies didn't ditch trans fats for better alternatives immediately, after the FDA required them to start including trans fat content information on nutrition labels in 2006.

So, yes, let's do away with trans fat.

Still, I have very mixed feelings about accomplishing this via a ban.

Because this ban doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists in a culture in which there is a vast eliminationist campaign against fat people, being waged under the aggressive moniker "war on obesity," which includes a metric fuckton of policing what fat people eat.

And while there is abundant justification for getting trans fats out of our foods, that is certainly not the case for many other food-related bans and restrictions that are (and will be) simply about policing diets under the auspices of "health" when health is rarely a serious consideration, and instead is just a thin veneer of respectability draped over hatred of fat people and our fat bodies, just because of the way we look.

That said, there is always concern that, if the food industry is left to their own devices, they will simply use a cheaper product in their cheapest foods, thus deepening an ever-increasing food access divide, in which people the only people who have access to the healthiest alternatives are those who can afford to pay for it. And a ban is perhaps the only way to prevent that potentiality.

BUT. Here's the thing about trans fats: Merely requiring food producers to label trans fat content significantly diminished the use of trans fats.
The F.D.A. estimates that consumption of trans fats fell by a stunning 78 percent from 2003 to 2012, and it contends that the labeling rule and subsequent reformulation of foods were important drivers.

...[Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest] said that about 85 percent of trans fats in the food supply have been eliminated.
The ban seeks to eradicate the remaining 15%, but perhaps there is an interim step, between regulation and a comprehensive ban, that could have accomplished the same, i.e. providing tax incentives to companies who elect not to use trans fats.

My reservations, to be clear, are not about trans fats. I have no interest in arguing that trans fats should stick around. But I am deeply skeptical of the methodology by which trans fats are being ushered out, especially when the same government crowing about this great win for the nation's health continues to subsidize the equally objectionable high-fructose corn syrup to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

The thing about banning trans fats is that only a real asshole would object. (Ahem.) Which makes it a great test case for a new front on the war on fat people, waged through food restriction and official policing. The trans fat ban will be cited as a grand success the next time a similar ban is proposed, and on we go down the rabbit hole.

Naturally, I will be accused of paranoia, but sometimes that's what sounding the alarm because you've been paying attention looks like.

If you don't know what I mean by "official policing," here is but one example: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a proposed rule, whose comment period ends in three days, regarding "the regulations and interpretive guidance implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they relate to employer wellness programs. The proposed rule amends the ADA regulations to provide guidance on the extent to which employers may use incentives to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs that include disability-related inquiries and/or medical examinations."

And you know who's primarily targeted by compulstory participation in "wellness programs," yes?

And you remember when "obesity" was classified as a disease by the American Medical Association, yes?

And you remember our First Lady talking about what a drain on the economy fat people are, that we are a problem to be solved, yes?

There is a campaign to officially pathologize fat in order to give employers, insurers, and even the government justification for policing fat people under the auspices of public health.

We should thus regard with heightened scrutiny the attempt to ban (certain) foods under the auspices of public health. Because those bans don't exist in a vacuum, and "public health" has been used to justify all manner of harm.

I'm glad that public awareness campaigning and regulation decreased trans fat production and consumption by 85%. Maybe we could have stuck with that plan for awhile longer, is what I'm saying.

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