Addicted to Outrageous PR Stunts

If anyone doubted that professional ambulance chaser John Banzhaf would launch a major offensive against restaurants — and who did? — he confirmed it this week with yet another outlandish media stunt. The king of torts is sending a threatening letter to the country’s major fast-food chains “as a necessary first step [toward] filing a lawsuit against the fast-food giants within six to nine months”:

“What he is demanding is the posting of signs in all restaurants warning customers that studies on animals have shown that eating fatty foods causes addiction-like reactions.

In the letter, obtained by USA Today, Banzhaf says ‘a growing body of evidence’ indicates fast food ‘can act on the brain the same way as nicotine or heroin.'”

That “growing body of evidence” consists of a single article in New Scientist magazine that heavily quotes Banzhaf himself. New Scientist is a British pop science publication, not a peer-reviewed journal like JAMA or The New England Journal of Medicine. Its latest issue features such cutting-edge science stories as “Porn for Fish,” and “Flying Cars Prepare for Takeoff.”

Banzhaf hasn’t yet convinced anyone else — other than PETA front-man Neal Barnard — to publish his addiction theory. Even top food scold Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest hasn’t climbed on board. He told New Scientist: “I think the burden is on advocates of the addiction argument to provide evidence of addiction.”

Banzhaf’s latest PR stunt comes just days before he will join a cabal of the country’s leading food cops and hungry trial attorneys gathering in Boston to plan their legal assault on restaurants. They explicitly declare that the event is “intended to encourage and support litigation against the food industry.”

A gathering of people who, like Banzhaf, generally believe that personal responsibility is “crap” and who compare Joe Camel to Ronald McDonald. Sounds like a rollicking good time.

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