Filed Under: Food Police Trial Lawyers

Nutrition Nannies: A Brief History

Litigation by activist organizations is an escalating feature in America’s food fights. High-profile lawsuits provide leverage for nutrition nannies’ overarching agenda: a steady march toward “bad” food bans.
Nutrition organizations were once educational entities, providing individuals information before allowing them to make their own choice. Once given the facts, though, many consumers continued to purchase their favorite treats. With sales of bacon and eggs still holding strong, activists have switched to more aggressive tactics: lobbying for warning labels on “junk” food, advocating taxes on popular snacks, and pushing for outright bans on “fast” food restaurants.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), as part of its effort to force Americans to adhere to the group’s fringe notions about what constitutes a healthy diet, has launched or supported dozens of lawsuits against corporate and federal-government targets over the last three decades. Their suits have increased in both frequency and level of sophistication.
In the 1970s, CSPI’s “legal” action consisted primarily of petitions to the government. A decade later, it shifted tactics and began to file suits against the federal government. By the turn of the century, the organization had found a new target: corporations. CSPI adopted a strategy of filing or publicly threatening to file lawsuits in order to pressure companies to meet its demands.
For these litigious food scolds, regulations such as menu labeling facilitate their efforts to encourage lawsuits against restaurants. CSPI is just salivating over the chance to “expose” menu items as “mislabeled” — inviting lawsuits from the band of greedy trial lawyers now targeting food companies. If you think that’s impossible, remember that a Seattle law firm sued two popular chain restaurants earlier this year for “misrepresenting nutritional content of menu items.”

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