California to Ban Trans Fats, Needs Schwarzenegger Signature
California will become the first state in the Union to ban trans fats in restaurants and other public food facilities if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs into into law a bill passed by the state legislature Monday. Schwarzenegger has yet to announce his position publicly but he did sign a ban on trans fats in public school cafeterias last year.
Michelle Malkin wants to know, “Will Gov. Schwarzenegger actually sign this junk science meddle-gislation? Is this the kind of ‘rebranding’ of the Republican Party Schwarzenegger wants the national GOP to adopt?” It’s a fair question.
Such laws are a ridiculous overreach, in my view. Dan Walters is right to worry about legislatures reacting to the latest scientific headlines rather than waiting for conclusive research.
Almost any product, activity or lifestyle in a modern society (sky diving, unprotected sex or crossing the street, for instance) poses some kind of theoretical risk, which means that life is a series of choices between competing values and impulses.
Trans fats, for instance, were developed to allow vegetable oils to replace animal fat, such as lard, in foods on the assumption that they would be healthier, but recent research indicates that they have health effects of their own, especially in raising levels of so-called “bad cholesterol.” But would banning them encourage restaurants to shift to even more questionable fats, such as palm oil, or return to lard? Potential consequences are rarely considered in the Capitol.
The silver lining here is that this is, after all, California we’re talking about. The Golden State is often on the cutting edge of legislative experimentation, often setting a trend years or even decades before others follow. Sometimes, they get it spectacularly wrong. The beauty of federalism, though, is that the several states can serve as laboratories for these measures as their local cultures dictate.