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Croissont WantedIt's official folks. The Norwegian government has declared war against the lethal Viennese Pastry in all its forms and shapes often accompanied by its sidekick the dry biscuits and its pose, the cake. This pastry (and its gang) has been known to rampage Norwegian breakfast and even afternoon snacks! But no longer. Thanks to the fearsome and tireless work of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) Norwegians will, from now on, only be able to purchase non-trans-fat versions of said food delinquents.

According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten in its article "Norway prohibits dangerous trans fats", Norwegians will now be safe from trans-fats since about eight weeks ago a new regulation came into place forbidding this food component. Thanks to this unprecedented and courageous decision, Norway is now among the best countries in Europe.

Congrats!

Finally!

A government organization defending the people.

About time!

Well done!

Or… would you like us to tell you the whole story?

We thought so.

Trans-fatty acids are indeed deadly substances. Of this, there are no doubts. If you would like to have a primer about this topic, go to Wikipedia and search for "Trans Fat".

Tans-fatty acids were developed as a substitute for natural fats with a view at the diet market. This is so because these acids cannot be digested hence contributing with zero calories. In addition, because they are semi-artificial, they spoil very little making them very attractive for food manufacturers since they provide long shelf lives for food products.

Over time, mostly private medical research, began to uncover the effects of these acids and people sounded the public alarm. Let's have this clear: Private Activists did most of the work.

Once this information was out, people simply refused en-masse to purchase products containing trans-fatty acids. Within 2004-2006 most manufacturers substituted trans-fatty acid with far less toxic substances.

With this information at hand, we can now analyze what the fearless bureaucrats of the Norwegian FSA did.

  • The FSA has been "concerned" for years about trans-fatty acids.

And they just now!!!??? Decide to do something about it????? Seriously!!!???

  • Most Norwegian manufacturers removed or minimized trans-fatty acids in their products years ago.

So, the new ban is pretty much useless? Correct! Give a trans-fatty-acid-free Danish to that contestant!

  • The FSA will still allow food with up to 2% of trans-fatty acid from total fat content, not food weight!

Well… considering that there is no safe level for trans-fatty acids, we are not exactly impressed by this number. But wait! There is more.

  • The FSA in it infinite wisdom has no limitations whatsoever for trans-fatty acid content from imported food.

That's right! It would seem that molecularly-identical trans-fatty acids from anywhere in the world to the ones manufactured in Norway behave differently once they cross its borders. Must a passport issue… probably.

IN SUMMARY

Trans-fatty acids were developed as a better food substance and substitute. They seemed to work. Private (i.e. non-governmental) scientists discovered that they were toxic. Governments did nothing. Private citizens (activists) let people know of the toxicity. Governments did nothing. People rejected food with trans-fatty acids. Governments continued to do nothing. Manufacturers replaced trans-fatty acid not to lose sales. Governments continued to do nothing.' And then, and only then, the government did something. There were a few PR campaigns and lawmakers and regulators sprang into action to forbid a substance that almost nobody used. And even when "banns" were put into place, these bans were never absolute, even considering that there is no safe level for trans-fatty acids and the governments knew this.

So… why exactly do we need governments?

CONCLUSION

The FSA is just like any other government regulatory agency: slow, politicized and useless. This is a clear example of how the market (however limited in its freedom) acted swiftly and decisively while governments were scratching their collective buts and picking their noses. Self-interest works, governments do not. It is for this reason that we are Absolute Austro-Libertarians, because where it counts, in real life, it works. If you don't believe us (and that is most certainly your right) feel free to take a fiat pastry from the government regulatory basket. Just don't blame us if you die from an early heart disease; you were warned.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

 

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