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USA: "Cheeseburger bill" passes House

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  • Pamela Rice
    [EXCERPT: But of course this silly legislative effort has nothing to do with encouraging personal responsibility and everything to do with pleasing a powerful
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2005
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      [EXCERPT: "But of course this silly legislative effort has nothing to
      do with encouraging personal responsibility and everything to do with
      pleasing a powerful and politically connected industry," said Michael
      Jacobson, director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the
      Public Interest.]


      http://www.agweekly.com/articles/2005/11/05/news/markets/market02.txt

      House votes to block obesity lawsuits

      By LIBBY QUAID
      Associated Press Writer
      AP
      WASHINGTON -- The Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday to
      shield fast-food chains from lawsuits that blame them for making
      people fat.

      Nicknamed the "cheeseburger bill," the measure stems from lawsuits
      accusing McDonald's of causing obesity in tens of thousands of
      children. The food industry has asked Congress and state legislatures
      to protect it from liability, and so far, 21 states have agreed.

      "You cannot litigate personal choices and lifestyles," said Rep. Mike
      Rogers, R-Mich.
      House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said
      potential costs from the lawsuits threaten the food industry and its
      12 million employees and raise food prices for consumers.

      "These suits would be laughable if they were not so harmful,"
      Sensenbrenner said.
      The measure, which won approval on a 306-120 vote, would prevent
      class action lawsuits blaming restaurants and food companies for
      weight gain or obesity. The House passed a similar bill last year,
      but the Senate ran out of time to act.

      Two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and nearly one-third
      are obese, while obesity among children and teenagers more than
      doubled in the past 30 years, according to government estimates.

      Critics of the bill contend that a better way to make people
      responsible for how they eat is to require nutrition information on
      menus and menu boards.

      "But of course this silly legislative effort has nothing to do with
      encouraging personal responsibility and everything to do with
      pleasing a powerful and politically connected industry," said Michael
      Jacobson, director of the Washington-based Center for Science in the
      Public Interest.

      A food industry lobbyist said lawsuits against food companies are the
      wrong way to fight obesity in America.

      "More energy must be put into solving the problem of obesity, and
      less into assigning blame for the purpose of collecting legal fees,"
      said Hunt Shipman, executive vice president of government affairs and
      communications for the Food Products Association.

      Courts have dismissed most obesity claims, but an appeals court in
      New York reinstated one lawsuit against McDonald's earlier this year.
      It is still pending.

      On the Net:

      Information on the bill, H.R. 554, can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov
      Food Products Association: http://www.fpa-food.org/
      Center for Science in the Public Interest: http://www.cspinet.org/
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