The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting today that the city has decided against a ban on trans fats, saying that this type of action is better suited for the province to handle. It wasn’t the jurisdictional issue that decided it, though… It was because they didn’t have enough warm bodies to enforce the ban.
The article didn’t say who would be responsible for the enforcement, but I think it would probably fall under the purvey of Manitoba health inspectors. (Although, if it was a city-only ban, the city would probably have to front the cash/people to do the trans fat raids.) In 2006, the CBC ran an article about how overworked the health inspectors in the province are. I wasn’t able to find any new numbers, so I don’t know if this has improved or not.
A lot of people don’t understand that trans fats can be “natural.” (This is where people need to realize that “natural” doesn’t always mean “good for you.”) Animal fats contain natural trans fats. The problem is in artificial trans fats: adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats. It was the introduction of artificial trans fats that made them cheaper to use than natural trans fats for frying, and also helped extend the shelf life of some baked goods. After the advent of trans fats, rather than eating a small number of trans fats in beef or butter, people started eating trans fats in all kinds of things.
Anyway, trans fats aren’t good for you, and you should try to avoid them except when eating them in the tiny quantities you get in butter or beef. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want the government to spend money patrolling the restaurants to make sure that they are removing trans fats from their food products. (Almost every ban I’ve seen has specified that the trans fats being banned are the artificial ones. Otherwise, you’d never be able to have butter with your dinner roll at a restaurants!) A lot of restaurants are removing trans fats from their menu on their own, after pressure from consumers. I *do* support asking the larger restaurants to make their nutritional information available to customers, though.
In the end, the city decided to put out a fact sheet instead, explaining how to make healthy eating choices when eating out. That’s a bit of a cop-out in itself (how is a low-income, computer illiterate person supposed to get one of these fact sheets without having to make a special trip downtown to get one?) but at least it’s something. Now, if they could just take a look at the food desert problem…