Legislation today, litigation tomorrow. This is the motivation of the dietary scolds at The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who are blaming restaurants for the nation’s expanding waistline and are pushing a legislative mandate to force dining establishments to label every menu item they serve. Those that cannot comply with the labeling demands can expect a super-sized lawsuit courtesy of CSPI and their partner, tobacco-lawsuit veteran John Banzhaf, who is already facilitating and threatening lawsuits against restaurants.

The CSPI-written legislation introduced today by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) would require chain restaurants with 20 or more units to label the nutritional content for every menu item – an extremely costly and near-impossible requirement. Unlike the labeled products purchased in a grocery store, chain restaurants do not serve standardized, pre-portioned foods. Casual dining chains in particular serve varying cuts of meat, portions of vegetables, and have thousands of ingredients that go into preparation.

“Special orders, extra salad dressing, or methods of preparation affect calorie and nutritional content and would become the establishing grounds for litigation – which is exactly what CSPI and John Banzhaf want,” said Richard Berman, executive director of The Center for Consumer Freedom.

CSPI and Banzhaf are pursuing litigation strategies based on suspected mislabeling of foods and have even co-signed threatening letters to ice cream companies for not warning their customers that their frozen treat contains fat and sugar. Restaurants are their next target. CSPI’s Michael Jacobson has said that litigation against restaurants is “an extremely important strategy.”

“This bill is the latest set up by CSPI and the trial lawyers to cash in on the nation’s obesity,” Berman said. “It’s a fool-proof recipe for an onslaught of frivolous litigation against restaurants.”