U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT) wants to be the food-cop-in-chief. Last week he proposed a series of anti-obesity measures, including marketing bans and restaurant menu-labeling legislation. Yesterday, the Center for Consumer Freedom’s op-ed attacking Lieberman’s plan was published by his state’s biggest paper, the Hartford Courant.

The op-ed notes that “restaurant portions are not standardized and simply cannot be. Imagine chefs and waiters having to serve identically portioned slices of meatloaf and carefully calibrated dollops of mashed potatoes.” Inexact measurements are “a recipe for
false advertising litigation. Restaurants that miscount fat grams or employees who spread too much mayonnaise will trigger the arrival of lawyers with Soprano-like offers to settle.”

It’s worth pointing out that the first lawyer to suggest suing food companies over obesity concerns, John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf, says he got the idea when he first heard the (deeply flawed) claim that obesity costs Americans $117 billion annually. “A fast-food company like McDonald’s may not be responsible for the entire obesity epidemic,” he admits. “But let’s say they’re 5 percent responsible. Five percent of $117 billion is still an enormous
amount of money.”
Banzhaf subsequently upped the ante and http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/03/eveningnews/main581615.shtml target=_blank>somehow decided that the food industry’s liability for obesity is $150 billion.

Our op-ed concludes with a radically different — and much fairer — proposal:

Food cops, trial lawyers and obesity doomsayers should provide a little labeling about themselves: 34 percent junk science, 14 percent sensationalism, 29 percent threats and 23 percent greed. Warning: “Special interest with litigious agenda. Take recommendations with a grain of salt — not too much, of course.”