Cupcake Panic

It must be a slow month at the office for personal injury attorney J. Michael Hayes of Buffalo, New York. Last week Hayes filed suit against six manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for allegedly contributing to a 14 year old girl’s diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Hayes claims that “[high fructose corn syrup manufacturers] know this stuff has adverse consequences…and if there’s harm associated with it, you should get a warning.”

If there is “harm” associated with it? Should staplers have a warning label advising people not to staple their pants on in the morning?

Of course, Hayes’ claim is meritless. HFCS was deemed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Association in 1983. It shares that status with sugar, flour, and many other kitchen staples (speaking of staplers). The American Dietetic Association stated in December 2008 that “high fructose corn syrup…is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose [“table sugar”]. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

There is no end to the absurd legal precedent that Hayes seeks to set – endless riches for himself and a mob of consumers looking for someone else to blame. Unfortunately, this lawsuit is probably only the beginning of a legal assault on our dinner plates. Kelly “Twinkie Tax” Brownell and his allies are pushing the idea that pop rocks might as well be crystal meth to the nerves of consumers in order to “change the legal landscape” and enrich trial lawyers like Hayes while making food bland and boring. But we can’t sue ourselves skinny: Overcoming obesity requires the very personal responsibility that Brownell and the trial bar want to hound out of existence.