Conservatives Say FDA Trans Fat Ban Infringes On Freedom Because, You Know, Thanks Obama

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that they are instituting a ban on artificial trans fats to be completed over the next three years. Trans fat is a common ingredient in processed foods — like doughnuts, pies, microwave popcorn, and frozen pizza — that is a cheap way to prolong a product's shelf life. The ban comes with ample scientific evidence that trans fats are not healthy. The FDA predicts that each year the ban will save 7,000 lives from heart disease and prevent 20,000 heart attacks. While many celebrate the ban as a step towards improving health and safety, some groups are complaining that the FDA trans fat ban infringes upon their freedom and that the Obama administration has gone too far. But what exactly are people who are complaining saying?

The executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Jacobson, told The Washington Post that the ban is probably the single most important change that could have been made to our food supply. But, not everyone is supportive of the ban. In a Fox News segment last December after the FDA's preliminary ruling to ban trans fats, economist and author Jayson Lusk said:

If the government can involve itself in such small minutia decisions of our daily lives as to whether we want to eat sprinkles or not, you know that's really not that much respect for the citizen's choices. And if they are willing to ban those small decisions, what kind of respect will they give citizens in the larger decisions in our lives?

Daren Bakst of The Heritage Foundation commented when the ban was proposed that instead of protecting Americans from unreasonable risks, the FDA "effectively decided to change its mission to nutrition activist," without, apparently realizing, that the FDA trans fat ban will, in fact protect people from unreasonable risks:

It’s hard to imagine a greater intrusion into our lives than telling us how to perform a basic function of life: eating. ...This FDA power grab won’t stop with trans fat. Once the precedent has been established that the FDA will serve as the public’s nutritionist, both added salt and sugar will be in the crosshairs of the agency.

According to The Guardian, Independent Women's Forum fellow Julie Gunlock acknowledged that trans fats aren't good for people, but said, "These trans fats do still exist, they are incredibly unhealthy. But this is moving from telling us and educating us to making the decision for us. ... With freedom comes the freedom to make bad decisions."

And, saving the best for last, New York reported in response to the FDA's preliminary ban announcement last year, conservative presidential candidate Rand Paul exclaimed, "They’re coming after your doughnuts!"