Filed Under: Snacks

Fat Lawsuits: Sign Of The Times

The campaign against soda and snacks in public schools has reached the front page of The New York Times. As we have told you in the past, anti-obesity activists have openly declared the fight against soft drinks in schools as a “wedge” issue meant to open up all sorts of foods and beverages to new government regulation. California has already adopted a law that bans the sale of foods that do not meet arbitrary standards for fat and sugar content on elementary campuses — in cafeterias, snack bars, vending machines and even at student bake sale fundraisers — and limits the sale of carbonated drinks at middle schools. The legislation’s sponsor has vowed to “remove junk foods from schools in the next four years.”

The Times rightly notes that the war on fat may “be a culture war for the new century.” On one side, “lawyers who pioneered suits against tobacco companies.” On the other, advocates of consumer freedom. “The lawyers filing these suits hope to do to Mega Gulps and Twinkies what they did to Joe Camel and tobacco,” writes the Times — demonizing a product, taxing it out of reach of consumers, and restricting the places where it can be bought and consumed.

But as the Center for Consumer Freedom declares in the Times cover story, “They can eliminate everything they want, and it will not do one thing to curb obesity. You cannot mandate fat away… A soft drink or an ice cream cone is not dangerous. That’s where these trial lawyers are wrong.”

But the lawsuits are coming, and “Big Food” is slated to become the next “Big Tobacco.” Money is the main course. The Times quotes John Banzhaf of George Washington University on recent suits against food sellers: “These suits are the harbingers. You may not be able to prove that somebody got fat because of a particular product, but you can prove that the companies may have misrepresented, by omission, what is in their foods… You could have states saying that they have this billion-dollar public health problem, and food companies are responsible for a certain percentage of it.”

“It’s a reach, I admit,” says Banzhaf. “But they said the same thing about tobacco lawsuits 10 years ago.” And he would know. He is the founder of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a how-to-sue outfit that promises “hundreds of billions [YES, BILLIONS!] of dollars” from anti-tobacco lawsuits — to those willing to buy his “lawsuit kits.” With the tobacco suits in the past, Banzhaf is now eyeing snacks and restaurant food.

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