Instinct tells us to fear poison. If our ancestors were not cautious about what they put in their mouths, they would not have survived long enough to produce us.

Unfortunately, a side effect of that cautious impulse is that whenever someone claims that some chemical — or food ingredient, like fat — is a menace, we are primed to believe it. That makes it easy for government to leap in and play the role of protector.

But for every study that says X is bad for you, another study disagrees. How is a layman to decide? I used to take consumer activists’ word for it. Heck, they want to save the world, while industry just wants to get rich. Now I know better. The activists want money, too — and fame.