Food Industry Funded Group Really Worried (For You) About Trans Fat Bans

The Center for Consumer Freedom posted a full page ad in today’s USATODAY.

The headline reads: “Hey New York: Here’s What’s Next. Now that New York has banned cooking oils with trans fat (the same substance as margarine) because there are healthier alternatives, it opens the door to banning so much more! Using the same logic, let’s get rid of:”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a non-prof org funded by donations from the fast food, meat, and tobacco industries. They started with a $600k donation from Philip Morris and are really concerned about regulations limiting your ability to eat dangerous substances. — BEN POPKEN

Full ad inside…


Good thing they haven’t banned agribusiness paying so-called think tanks to shill with snarky full-page ads. — MEGHANN MARCO

BAN EVERYTHING!!! [Copyranter]
Consumer Freedom [Official Site]


Edit Your Comment

  1. whoneedslight says:

    Not being able to get butter on your popcorn at the movies is downright Orwellian.

  2. transomist says:

    except that the sentiment is a worthy one.

    nyc HAS developed a full-blown nanny state to patrol the personal choices of its citizens

  3. acambras says:

    As a non-smoker with allergies, I’m a big fan of all the anti-smoking laws. Here in Connecticut, people can hardly smoke anywhere, and that’s just fine with me.

    But food? If someone nearby is eating a Big Mac value meal, it doesn’t affect me (well, unless they experience a little McD’s-induced flatulence, I guess).

    Now one might argue that everyone’s health care costs go up because of obesity and poor diets. But health care costs are also driven up by people who drive fast and run with scissors, right?

    I just think it’s a little odd that tobacco companies are getting involved, unless it’s because some of the tobacco companies also have food interests (e.g., RJR Nabisco, Philip Morris/Kraft).

  4. Jory says:

    Um, butter doesn’t have trans-fat. Seems like most of the people freaking out about the ban have no idea what Trans Fats are.

    On that note, the “Center for Consumer Freedom” (should be Consumer Disinformation) operates a website called which claims right on their homepage that “Emerging science” indicates that trans-fats may have positive health effects (no source is noted).

    They accept donations from Philip-Morris? Philip-Morris owns Kraft Foods, so no surprises there.

  5. DaveJ says:

    Butter? Do you think the stuff that they put on your popcorn at the movies is remotely related to butter?

  6. The Center isn’t just funded by donations from the fast food and restaurant lobbies, it was created by them and they are its sole funders. They like to portray the Center as this “grass roots” consumer group, but nothing could be further from the truth. They also have raised eyebrows in the past with their subway ads that say, “Hey! Americans aren’t fat!”

  7. Jory says:

    Shouldn’t seem odd that Tobacco companies are getting involved. Think about the precedent NYC is setting by banning Trans Fats, which could make possible even more strict laws against tobacco.

  8. They’re right let’s get the government out of our menus. Let’s start by cutting every agricultural subsidy and price support for mega-farming (Goodbye Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, Tyson, IBP, Armour, etc)

  9. TedSez says:

    Next thing you know, that nasty government is going to start banning pot, cocaine, heroin, steroids, underage drinking, public nudity, sex clubs, unlicensed handguns, expired dairy products, and a whole bunch of other simple pleasures.

    When is this assault on personal freedom going to end?

  10. Also Philip Morris (now known as “Altria”) is a major food and beverage distributer (Kraft, Toblerone, Shake n’ Bake, Oscar Meijer, Nabisco, and Maxwell House are all brands owned by the Altria Group.)

  11. B says:

    There are movie theaters that offer butter on their popcorn? All I’ve ever seen is that “butter -flavored” yellow stuff they put on it.

  12. Mike_ says:

    “Margerine”? Lurn too speel, morans.

    They’re so furious, they don’t even have time to run their ad through a spellchecker.

  13. acambras says:


    Don’t mess with my chocolate!

  14. infinitysnake says:

    Next thing, they’ll want to ban the rat feces from thr hot dogs….

  15. etinterrapax says:

    If movie theaters actually put butter on popcorn, I’d actually buy it.

    That exchange from Seinfeld really cracks me up: “It’s butter flavoring! It’s yellow!”

    What really kills me about this ban is that if my own education is any barometer, someone has known the harm of trans-fats since at least 1993, because that’s when I was hearing in nursing school that they’d kill you much faster than the saturated fats we’d already learned to hate.

  16. TVarmy says:

    The difference is that the above foods have a distinct flavor and no near-identical substitute.

    Trans fat is unnatural and has no taste of its own. It is merely a substitute for healthier, more perishable and expensive fats. It raises the bad type of cholesterol and lowers the good type.

    Also, trans fat is still legal for you to buy and use in your own home in New York. What is illegal is to sell it at a restaurant, where most people don’t take the time to research what is in the food they are being served.

  17. Falconfire says:

    they are only banning MAN MADE trans-fat. IE the stuff the food industry created that makes you fat… not the natural stuff that is in such small amounts that it doesnt really effect you.

    You can buy that Big Mac all you want… they just are forcing the food industry to not use margarine in those fries that will make you gain 40 pounds because unlike real fats, your body cant handle it. Sure it tastes better with the margarine (and its cheaper which is what the food industry is really worried about) But in the end its just there to make you a addict.

  18. Sam Glover says:

    This is one of those things where I think I should probably be against the ban for ideological reasons, but I can’t get myself worked up about it because I’m actually looking forward to a trans-fat-free (sort of) NYC the next time I visit.

  19. tonycontento says:

    Trans-fats are dangerous. They have been shown to be linked to heart disease, cancer and being tubby. The food industry loves them because they have a longer shelf life. That’s it. You’re increasing your bad cholesterol so that your snackie cakes can last until 2012.

    New York State is well within their rights to ban trans fats because their budget for Medicaid is over $44 billion dollars a year. If people expect the State to care for them and they won’t eat better one their own, they’ll have to drive to Jersey to screw up their plumbing with canned nacho cheese and swiss rolls (hopefully not at the same time).

    Personally, a nationwide ban on trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup would suit me just fine.

  20. Chris says:

    Why in the hell SHOULDN’T the big business entities be funding, and fighting this? Why would the Consumerist — ostensibly a pro-consumer website, be taking a tsk-tsk tone against the ad, as opposed to the government-as-grandma mentality that enacted this silly law?

    I know we’re all supposed to hate big box retailers, agribusiness, and God forbid, discount retail chains. But at base, as a consumer, I want choice. Let ME, not pandering politicians, choose what I buy, where I shop, and what I eat. The government needs to stay out of both the bedroom AND the kitchen.

  21. momo says:

    “Here’s What’s Next”

    isn’t that pretty much what the anthrax attacker said back in 2001? coincidence? i. think. not!

  22. infinitysnake says:

    Because, Chris, this move is pro-consumer. YOU can still choose what YOU buy, you just can’t choose to foist cheap, toxic chemical fats on an unknowing consumer to save six cents over something that’s healthier and tastes better.

  23. sonic0boom says:

    FYI, the Landmark cinema chain uses real butter on their popcorn. It is rather tasty.

  24. MattyMatt says:

    Ugh, why do people make slippery-slope arguments in this day and age?

    Okay, fine, let’s tilt the slope the other way. “Hey, America; your government allows food providers to feed you hazardous synthetic oils. What’s next? Letting people smoke in hospitals? Allowing lead paint in schools? Granting restaurants the freedom to use broken glass as a condiment?”

  25. RandomHookup says:

    Didn’t we go through this with Red Dye #2, already? And all that did was kill off the red M&M’s.

  26. Falconfire says:

    Why in the hell SHOULDN’T the big business entities be funding, and fighting this? Why would the Consumerist — ostensibly a pro-consumer website, be taking a tsk-tsk tone against the ad, as opposed to the government-as-grandma mentality that enacted this silly law?

    Simple, because it exists as a law because the Food Industry doesnt give a rats ass that the products that are saving them money are killing you. No amount of control short of not eating these things will make it healthier. Food corps cant police themselves despite being given tons of ample warning and being told they should, if the industry took steps to actually remove man made transfats, then there wouldnt be a law on the books telling them to.

    People shouldnt eat food thats “safe” only to find out that there is enough transfat to kill labratory mice in their foods. Go watch Fast Food Nation and find out how evil these guys really are.

  27. logie-al says:

    All I know is that my Grandmother, who is 75 and barely five foot tall, raised holy hell this Thanksgiving over the removal of the trans-fat from her pie crusts. She has made Thanksgiving dinner for as long as I can remember and even long before then and I have never heard her complain about a thing till this year. She says the dough doesn’t feel right, roll right or cook right any more. She had some pie crust frozen that had the trans fat and pointed out the taste and consistency differences to me. I would agree that the “new” crust tasted more flat and not as light. It certainly was not as flaky as it had been in years past. And when someone messes with my Grandma’s apple pie, it just pisses me off. Instead of banning it completely, they need to give us the choice between what tastes good and what is “good for us.”

  28. RumorsDaily says:

    Why can’t they just mandate proper labeling? Wouldn’t that solve the problem of unwitting victims without removing consumer choice?

  29. infinitysnake says:

    First, I don’t think trans fats are a matter of ‘comsumer choice,’ as they’re cheap substitutes for ingredients that taste better- nobody in their right mind will miss them when the better fats come back.

    Second, they’re already mandated on labels, but the ban doesn’t apply to those foods, but to those that come without labels- food you buy in restaurants, bakeries, etc.

  30. Jory says:

    Pie crusts come out best with lard (no trans-fat). every baker knows that.. if your grandmother is putting Crisco or Margarine in her pie crust, it can’t be that good.

    Being said, I’m a vegetarian, so I make pie crusts with butter (also no trans-fat).

    And anyway, she can still buy the trans-fatty Crisco, this law doesn’t affect that.

  31. etinterrapax says:

    Heh. Jory beat me to it. Lard pie crusts are heaven on a plate, and come out ten times flakier and a thousand times more flavorful than anything made with shortening or margarine. You don’t know what pie crust is supposed to taste like until you’ve had it. And you probably only need to say “shortening is less healthy than lard” to yourself once before switching or hurling, whichever comes first. This will be a blessing to restaurant pies, if nothing else.

    The NYT food column did a good pie crust story around Thanksgiving this year. Their writer’s best crust came from hard-to-find ingredients, but she was adamant that the best flavor came from ingredients occurring in nature. True across the board.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s funny how the comments supporting the use of transfats – all of them – end up being about pining over the great taste of butter or the transformative qualities of lard.

    Looks like the CCF is doing a GREAT job of muddying the waters.

    Wal-mart – fire your current PR guys, hire these guys!

  33. moejuda says:

    Seriously, did anyone actually read the article before comming here and wailing about nanny states?

  34. Little Mintz Sunshine says:

    They aren’t banning FAT, people, just Trans Fat. Oddly, we old-folks survived just fine on the real stuff without all the obesity. Now, if fast food places and other restaurants could just do something with portion control…do we really need a six pound burger? Somewhere along the line, we seemed to have forgotten that our stomachs are not the size of a small VW.

  35. magilacudy says:

    Portion control? That’s one slippery slope I wouldn’t want to tumble over. Hell naw you’re not touching my fat sandwiches.

  36. natgeotravelina says:

    Brian Sack has the funniest take over on Banterist:
    From New York, a weblog of original humor by Brian Sack.
    Subject to all the flexible quality standards of internet self-publishing.
    Mayor Bloomberg Fan Fiction
    I thought it would be just another lonely night nursing my Guinness in my smoke-free watering hole – until he caught my eye. By “he” I mean New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    The mayor was glowing like a guardian angel sent from heaven to protect us all from everything. Our eyes locked. Within seconds I found him next to me, making sure I was properly seated on the stool so that I didn’t fall off and hurt myself.

    I was humbled by his compassion and love as he checked the soles of my shoes to see that they weren’t perilously worn. He looked up at me and smiled.

    “Thank you for banning trans-fats,” I said, saluting him with a flavorless French fry.

    “My pleasure,” said the mayor as he set about blunting the bar’s dangerously sharp cocktail toothpicks.

    He fixed a steely gaze on another patron’s hamburger and snapped his fingers. Immediately the City Council and Board of Health appeared behind him.

    “I want all hamburgers to be cooked for 85 minutes,” said the mayor, “only then can we make every burger in this great city safe. God help us.”

    His entourage nodded in unison and immediately passed legislation. I was impressed by his incredible power and Bono-like concern for us New Yorkers.

    He ran about the bar pouring boiling water on every raw oyster he could find. Everyone applauded. He returned to me, trading my worn baseball cap for a much warmer wool beret. Before I could thank him he was strapping me in to a life jacket in case I accidentally fell into the Hudson.

    His desire to protect me – to protect all of us – obviously knew no bounds. I felt like I owed him one.

    “May I buy you a drink, Mister Mayor?” I asked.

    “Sure,” said the kind-hearted billionaire, “a non-alcoholic one in something safe and shatter-proof.”

    He glanced over at the Board of Health. They immediately understood what he meant and legislation was passed faster than you could say “nanny state.” Within seconds the bartender had transferred my Guinness to an 8 oz. plastic cup. And it wasn’t Guinness, but rather sugar-free molasses juice.

    The mayor turned his attention back to me, eyeing me from head to toe.

    “Lovely scarf,” he said.

    “Thank you,” I replied.

    “But the wind could blow it and it might get caught on the side-view mirror of a bus,” he said, “you’d be dragged to your death or suffer abrasions, and I would cry and cry and cry.”

    Tears welled in the guardian mayor’s eyes. Before he could turn to the Council and Board members behind him, legislation had already been passed. Buses were illegal, and several NYPD officers had been reassigned from homicide to rogue scarf patrol.

    “Let’s you and I get out of here,” said the mayor. We left.

    Outside, the air was cold and inhospitable. The mayor looked over at his entourage. They seemed unable to do anything. He was grief-stricken.

    “I’m sorry it’s cold,” said the mayor, “if I could change the weather, I would. Believe me.”

    He held my hand and helped me across the street. We passed several French restaurants that were forbidden from serving foie gras before finally arriving at the Freedom Tower. At one story tall, it was not technically a tower.

    “Towers are dangerous,” said the mayor. He unlocked the giant steel door and ushered me into a room filled with nothing but amazingly soft, non-flammable pillows.

    “You’ll be safe here,” said Mayor Bloomberg, “I’ll be back later. With everyone else.”

    And with that he was gone. But not before decreeing all sidewalks be made out of sponge.

  37. showbiznes says:

    You can have butter on your popcorn! You can’t have trans fats which are basically made up foods!! Like someone else said, they aren’t banning FAT, margarine is a man made food (you can’t make it in your kitchen) and it should be against the law — I support the decision. Obesity is the cause of more deaths in the United States than war… of course the government should ban companies from trying to make money off of killing us – this isn’t about us making choices, it’s about companies making bad choices. And, honestly it’s not like there isn’t a problem out there… I mean obviously most people don’t even know what they are eating and what it has in it anyway.

  38. Moleboy says:

    This isn’t about us making choices? Wow. Please stop with all the “you don’t even KNOW what a trans fat is, you can’t even make an informed judgment” bullshit. Maybe half the people don’t know, but they don’t care because they aren’t hurting anybody and have the balls to exercise some personal responsibility and stand up to ever more facist NY policies. And I cannot even believe that I had to just write a sentence that makes me sound like Anne Coulter. Can’t wait until they come to take away something you all want. God forbid brie, wine or martini’s were found to be bad for you. Oh, wait, thousands of people die every year from alcohol comsumption and accidents! Better cancel those dinner parties! I am going to start on my list of stuff that is totally safe and everyone agrees is good and deserves to be sold. if it’s not on my list..BAN IT!