Corby Kummer has a great discussion of the factors complicating the trans fats debate in this month’s issue of the Atlantic. Unfortunately it’s only available to subscribers, but here’re a couple of the money grafs:

“I realized that saying trans fats are ‘totally replaceable,’ as Frieden repeatedly does–asserting that they are merely used for texture, not taste–is easier for a health official than for a product developer. It should be simple, yes, to get rid of an entirely artificial ingredient that is used mostly for the convenience of industry. Researchers have been working for decades on substitutes, which should by now be as plentiful and as cheap as trans fats.

But they’re not. Midttun and John gave the example of their blueberry muffins, which used to be the highest in trans fats, as a challenge they had finally met. They did it by using a new fat and adding several other ingredients to mask its taste and still get the same mouthfeel. The ingredients, they told me, included oat bran, ground golden flaxseed, soy protein, and emulsifiers. Individual bakers, I thought, were sunk: They’d never be able to figure all that out, even with frequent calls to a city help line.”