Filed Under: Big Government Fat Taxes

The Maine Problem: Food Cops Run Amok

A state known for its rich and delicious lobster now faces the draft report of an anti-obesity plan straight out of the food cops’ playbook. The Commission to Study Public Health in Maine, created by state Representative Sean Faircloth, recently released 28 anti-obesity policy recommendations. Last year, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) nutrition director Margo Wootan spoke at a press conference praising Faircloth’s wide-ranging anti-obesity legislative efforts, which included CSPI-favored mandatory nutritional labeling on restaurant menus. But the links don’t stop there, and neither does this off-the-wall report.

In addition to requiring chain restaurants with 20 or more nationwide locations to provide caloric information for foods on their menus or menu boards, the Maine commission recommended:

Taxes: Placing special taxes on food advertisements to children, when those foods aren’t on a list of “health foods and beverages” (France recently adopted a similar plan);
“Treat Bans”: Forbidding the time-honored tradition of teachers occasionally using food as a reward for learning in school;
Milk Restrictions: Allowing only one-percent or skim milk on school campuses (CSPI has proposed something similar, going so far as to say that two-percent milk is of “poor nutritional quality”); and
Fat “Report Cards”: Forcing schools to annually assess a student’s Body Mass Index and notify parents whose children are above or below “normal.”

How would such a costly plan be implemented? “It is recommended that funding for these initiatives be derived from sources that are determined by the Legislature to be causes of obesity,” the report noted. Translation: A “Fat Tax.” That’s music to the ears of Twinkie tax creator Kelly Brownell, who lauded Faircloth’s previous proposals as “among the most innovative of the country.” Calorie cop Marion Nestle notes: “I am already referring to Rep. Faircloth’s work in my writing and presentations.” Not surprisingly, Faircloth was a speaker, along with Brownell and Nestle, at a 2003 conference “intended to encourage and support litigation against the food industry.”

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