Who’s Taking Care of Us?

They’re suing the Colonel? When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a suit against Kentucky Fried Chicken because the company still fries chicken in oil that has trans fat in it. I guess the CSPI has concluded that we are not smart enough to decide for ourselves if we want to take the health risks of eating our Extra Crispy drumstick now and then.

Since the folks at CSPI are so concerned about my health, I decided I should check them out. According to their Web site, “CSPI is a consumer advocacy organization whose twin missions are to conduct innovative research and advocacy programs in health and nutrition, and to provide consumers with current, useful information about their health and well-being.”

The Web site also lists their mission statement which is comprised of three main goals:

  • To provide useful, objective information to the public and policymakers and to conduct research on food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues related to science and technology;
  • To represent the citizen’s interests before regulatory, judicial, and legislative bodies on food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues; and
  • To ensure that science and technology are used for the public good and to encourage scientists to engage in public-interest activities.”

All very noble ideals, but I don’t remember them asking if I wanted them to represent my interests, and nobody in my family recalls hearing from them either. And why should we be so concerned about trans fat now when the CSPI wasn’t concerned about it in 1988. That’s when the organization pressured McDonald’s to stop using beef tallow to cook french fries and basically dismissed the dangers of using hydrogenated cooking oil that contained trans fat.

So why is it suddenly so bad for us? In moderation, I don’t think it is, and if you do a Google search of Trans Fat, you find many Web sites that state all the dangers of ingesting the stuff, but there are some that hold a different view. Sites that promote a TransFatMyth, saying that really it isn’t so bad after all.  

It’s no wonder that consumers are baffled when it comes to what is harmful and what is beneficial to our health. Scientists can’t even agree, and every other year some study refutes what another study proved.

What I would like to know is what happened to common sense in this frenzy of studies and litigation and media hype. Unless you’ve lived on a desert island somewhere, you’re aware of the problems of obesity and poor nutrition that are swiftly outpacing smoking as a major health issues in the United States. We now know that we should not subside on a diet of fast food – especially of the fried variety – and we need to eat more fruits and veggies. Think of it as a tasty alternative to medicine. Would you rather take a pill to control your cholesterol or take a walk and eat an apple?

Okay, maybe some of you would prefer the pill. That’s your choice. But if organizations like CSPI continue to try to regulate the food industry through litigation, or pressure to the FDA to step in, we won’t have choices any more.

So maybe we should start taking more responsibility about these health issues before we lose all control, and I’m really going to be pissed if someone outlaws funnel cakes.

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