I started eBaying again. I have my helmet on show on there and will be loading my excess DVDs, some train stuff, other bits and pieces and a banjo. I have given up trying to play the banjo. I only have five fingers on each hand, none of them are webbed, and I don’t own a pair of dungarees. The banjo idea was doomed from the outset. But this isn’t about eBay. More on that when the interesting stuff gets listed.
Today I have an article on trans fats. I know hardly anyone knows or cares what they are and if anyone’s even thought about it they probably imagine an overweight cross-dresser. That’s not what they are.
I’m not getting into all the biochemistry in detail. Basically, fat molecules look like a long zig-zag that can swivel around at each joint. Cell membranes are made of these molecules which is why those membranes are flexible.
Each joint is a carbon atom. The zig-zag is the bonds between them. They can swivel around unless there is a double bond between two of the carbon atoms. Then that bit can’t swivel any more.
If the double bond goes in when the zig-zag has bent, it’s a cis fatty acid and some of those have particular biological importance. If the double bond goes in when the zig-zag is straight, it’s a trans fatty acid and really is of no use whatsoever.
It can be harmful if it has a few double bonds affecting its swivelling ability. Too many of these in every cell membrane will reduce the flexibility of those membranes. A few won’t matter and they really don’t build up because cells die and are replaced. So they aren’t all that dangerous unless you eat a lot of them all the time.
Yet now the Righteous have decided that Europeans need to be protected from the menace of trans fats.
It’s interesting to see some of the big food companies demanding trans fat reductions. They make food. Why not just go ahead and reduce it? Ah, but that would let competitors keep using it and I bet there’s a price issue in there somewhere.
Countries are setting a limit where no more than 2% of total fat can be trans fat in any processed food. Seems reasonable. 98% of the fat content is not trans fat so the trans won’t make a difference. Further, non-processed food and even some processed food won’t contain any trans fat. So we’re good here, right?
No. They want a total ban. I don’t have any personal stake in this and don’t really care about trans fats. What annoys me is the insistence on a ban on something that really isn’t all that big a deal. Companies who don’t add any are able to brag about it and they can shout about how trans fats will do terrible things to you and make their competitors look like mass murderers.
As with everything else these days – yes, trans fats will do awful things to you but only if you eat a lot of it. Two percent in some, not all, food items isn’t a big deal.
The other thing that’s a little bizarre is that all these demands for a 2% limit seem odd when you read more of the article…
“The fact that EFSA acknowledged in 2004 that TFA levels ‘are close to 1 to 2%’ should prove that our industry addressed the problem effectively. The trend in the decrease of TFA levels in Europe has been rather constant and substantial over the past 20 years and there is no reason to believe that the trend would be inverted,”
So the levels of trans fats have been around 1 to 2% since 2004 and have been decreasing since. Why set a limit now? Why set a limit on something that’s already inside the limit anyway?
Ah, there has been recent research showing that trans fats are evil and disgusting. Therefore something must be done to settle the herd before they get restive and demand a ban. Setting a legal limit of a nice and safe 2% should do it and it won’t affect food companies because they’ve been inside that limit for the last ten years anyway.
There’s no fat monster coming. Just as well since nobody’s really interested in protecting us from it anyway.
As usual, their only interest is in protecting themselves.