Disgusted with legal zealots who want to make a fast buck on the backs of restaurant owners, law professor Jonathan Turley writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that “lawyers are now probing the fast-food industry in at least six different areas for potential liability.” Turley warns that vegetarian issues, the recent acrylamide scare, television advertising, and calorie counting could all become causes of action in court very soon.
But Turley adds that the plaintiff’s bar is getting plenty of help in its bid to demonize our food choices, largely from folks who have lots to gain. Politicians, he says, have already “staked out their possible share” by proposing “sin-taxes” that “would add billions in new taxes for legislatures that spent their way back into debt in the last few years.” Add to this the overzealous “nutritionists and dieticians who view dining out a bit differently from the rest of us.” Could he be referring to the Center for Science in the Public Interest? This is a group that stays afloat financially by selling newsletter subscriptions. Calling fettucine Alfredo “a heart attack on a plate” certainly generated enough controversy to help CSPI’s circulation numbers.
Even the animal rights movement is weighing in. Dr. Neal Barnard, a psychiatrist who represents the PETA-funded (and incredibly misnamed) Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, told the Washington Times that more lawsuits against the food industry would follow, aimed at those who are “to blame for America’s diet-related epidemics.” In a separate news release, Barnard said his group applauds the lawsuit… that holds four fast-food chains responsible for an obese man’s health problems.” He also warned that doctors who prescribe “meat-heavy, high-protein diets… could be assuming serious legal risk.”
Turley’s description of “the ultimate diet plan brought to you by your friends at the American Bar Association” rings true, especially considering that he works in the same George Washington University department as tobacco warrior (and fat-lawsuit talking head) John Banzhaf. Odds are he knows what he’s talking about.