Thursday, December 14, 2006

Don't Talk to Me About Personal Liberty...

I’ve been following in a very casual way the debate about the New York ban on trans fats. If you haven’t heard about it already you can find the low down here.
Trans fats which are truly a bad idea health wise are found in “industrialized” food: cakes, pies, biscuits basically anything you didn’t make yourself from scratch. If you did bake that cake and you used hard margarine then they’re in that cake too.
They also appear naturally but in small amounts. Of course.
Yesterday I took a glance at the forum about the ban on MSN and was totally riveted by the number of people who felt that the ban is an attack on their personal liberty; that their personal choice of whether or not to die by the slow silting up of their arteries is being eroded.

So what’s this got to do with living in France, you ask?
As I was tootling along this morning I was flashed by 3 or 4 cars which in local-speak means: beware there’s a police control up ahead!
The gendarmes were indeed staking out the roundabout and were checking that people were wearing their seat belts. A law which has been in operation for at least 20 years.
Let me repeat it: They were ensuring that drivers and passengers were belted up, an action most of us do automatically.
Some, as in quite a few, French people believe that being forced to wear a seat belt is an affront to their personal liberty and they wish to retain the right to endanger themselves and other people; they call it freedom.
I would, if I were in charge of health care, make them pay, out of their own pockets, for the treatment of any injuries incurred as a result of not wearing a seat belt.
I believe we should all be prepared to take resposibility for our actions...

On a lighter note: one sure way of fattening up the super slim French is to ban trans fats. No?

PS Non Beta bloggers have alerted me to the fact that they cannot always post a comment. I alerted the Blogger help yesterday but it seems that this isn't only my problem.
If you wish to comment and can't you could always email it and I will post it myself till the problem's solved.


angela said...

Angela, I totally agree taking responsibility for ones own actions is
mandatory in my book. People need to think and if they don't accept the
Shaz xx
I hate this comment problem

ColinB said...

MSN? I've heard of MSG(monosodium glutamate), but MSN is one I haven't met before. Care to bring us up to date ?

angela said...

Hi Colin,
you're right of course and have phrased that badly. The sentence should have read:
I took a glance at the forum on msn about the ban.
That doesn't sound right either.
Oh hell!

ColinB said...

This retired biochemist/nutritionist has a little stock of anecdotes about hard margarines. I won't bore you with them all, but would just mention two. First, while at University, the chemistry lecturer was covering the topic of metal chelating agents, and when he got to dimethylglyoxime, he said it was exquisitely sensitive to the presence of nickel, giving an intense red/purple colour. To prove his point, he added it to margarine, and got a strong pink colour. That, he said, was due to traces of the nickel catalyst used in the chemical hardening process -which is a reaction of the double bonds in vegetable oil with hydrogen gas.

That to me was the nail in the coffin was margarine was concerned - why should one be forced to eat a heavy metal contaminant. I hated the taste of the stuff anyway.

Many years later, I used to enjoy eating a particular brand of cheddar biscuits. But there was suddenly a change - they felt all creamy and gooey in the mouth - not at all to my liking. When I mentioned it to a biscuit technologist, he knew straightaway what it was about. They had changed the fat composition to include more of a particular fat which was considered to improve "mouth feel" as he put it. I'm pretty sure from what I've read since that the magic ingredient was a type of fat with those trans -fatty acids. As I expect you know, they are an accidental byproduct of catalytic hydrogenation ( with that nickel!) and looking back it amazes me that the food industry got away for as long as it did for slipping into the national diet large amounts of a class of substance that one normally consumes in trace amounts only.

I saw the way that MAFF operated at first hand. They viewed the food industry primarily as an earner of foreign currency, and treated it with kid gloves. BSE would not have happened if MAFF had done its job properly.

angela said...

Helmets are a big deal here in Colorado. Motorcyclists balk at wearing a helmet when they fly down the highway at 100 mph. Of course, they don't mind that the state of Colorado will scoop up their remains and host them in the hospital.


Open Grove Claudia