Philadelphia Inquirer Finds No Eatery Owners Complaining About Trans Fat Ban

     It’s not a difficult concept. When you’re a newspaper reporter documenting a new government-imposed burden on business, you find supporters and critics of the rule. It’s business journalism 101. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Patrick Kerkstra and Julie Stoiber could use a refresher course, apparently.

     In their February 9 story, the Inquirer staff writers only cited one critic of the city’s new trans fat ban, an official with the American Academy of Chefs. But no eatery owners who will have to switch to more expensive oils were cited.

     Kerkstra and Stoiber mentioned in passing that trans fat free oils, such as peanut oil, are more expensive. But even then they insisted the cost was not a big deal for restaurateurs.

      “At Scarduzio's Brasserie [Perrier], they would find peanut oil instead of the partially hydrogenated oil he used to use. It costs about $15,000 more a year, Scarduzio estimated, but is worth it because consumers want it,” they reported. For comparison, that $2,000 more than a minimum wage employee makes in Pennsylvania in an entire year.

     Chef and owner Chris Scarduzio’s Brasserie Perrier already made the shift to the more expensive oil “six months ago,” the reporters noted. What’s more, Scarduzio’s is a high-end restaurant serving entrees such as “House Smoked Salmon Lemon Crème Fraiche” and “Seared Potato and Goat Cheese Terrine.” Diners there are unlikely to curtail outings there on account of slightly more expensive dishes.

     Indeed, as Scarduzio himself noted, his customers inspired the switch to healthier cooking oil. “It’s a healthy choice,” he told the Inquirer.

     And while peanut oil is a healthier choice, the underlying issue with the city’s new ban is not about healthy versus unhealthy choices, but the role of government in regulating business.

     Nowhere in their article did the Philadelphia reporters find anyone, restaurant owners or customers, who questioned the wisdom of yet another government mandate on business.