Americans want to be safe. We also want to make our own decisions.
The FDA announced Thursday it will require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats, saying they are a threat to people’s health.
Our government has a role in public safety, particularly food safety. It has access to data and studies that individual citizens would not have the time or resources to collect and analyze.
The government should make us aware of risks and take steps to “promote the general welfare” as the preamble to our Constitution says.
However, over-regulation takes away our freedom, our right to make decisions for ourselves. The United States begins to be a “nanny state,” treating us as children unable to make good decisions.
No one says, “Man, I’m going to miss those trans fats.” They are synthetic industrial food products that have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurants for some time.
Since trans-fats are on their way out anyway, this move will do little harm to industry. The way the change is being phased in will not put a great hardship on industry, so in that sense the government’s hand here is light.
But it is concerning that the government would intervene where industry and the consumers seem to be moving in the right direction anyway.
Provide the information, report the risk. But in cases where market forces and consumers act to correct the risk, let us take action and make decisions.
We do not need to be mothered, we need to be informed.
Government has a role in food safety and in regulation. But it should also trust citizens to make decisions and act in our own interests.