business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the nation’s health officials have decided to try a voluntary approach to limiting trans fats in Canada’s diet, asking – rather than telling – restaurants to limit their use in recipes. The program has a two-year life span, at which point health officials will reconsider their benign approach.

However, it isn’t that the Canadian government has more faith in its restaurant industry than, say, the city of New York has in its. (New York has banned trans fat usage by restaurants, and there’s nothing voluntary about it.)

Rather, according to the paper, “critics blame the delay on opposition from the U.S. government, whose food industry would face complications exporting to Canada if Ottawa introduced binding limits.”
KC's View:
Listen, I prefer voluntary approaches to mandated approaches whenever possible. And we understand the trade issues involved here, and won’t pretend to minimize them.

But it strikes me as interesting – and sort of typical – that it appears that the US government is taking a commerce-based approach rather than a health-based approach.

Which has been my complaint all along about some of the decisions made by organizations like the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And I can’t help but think that these aren’t even necessarily good long-term commerce-driven decisions, because in the end they could be perceived as anti-consumer…and since consumers drive the food business, that could be a problem.