Leave it to the PETA-worshiping Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to take all the fun out of eating. In October 2006, the deceptive animal rights group sued seven restaurant chains under California’s “Proposition 65” law, claiming that the eateries needed to warn consumers that grilled chicken contained a cancer-causing ingredient. Cancer? Don’t worry. Like most statements emanating from PCRM’s office, this tall tale was all fuss and feathers. You don’t have to take our word for it. The office of California’s Attorney General just put it in writing.
On Monday PCRM will go to court to argue for a settlement of its lawsuit, which would require some California restaurants to post cancer warnings about a chemical (called “PhIP”) that can form when chicken is grilled. But California Supervising Deputy Attorney General Edward Weil is urging a judge to reject that settlement, writing in his formal Objections that such a warning “would not be in the public interest.”
Why? It’s pretty obvious, really—unless you’re PCRM’s legal director, a self-described vegetarian who wouldn’t know much about cooking birds in the first place.
PhIP forms in tiny, trace amounts when you grill chicken. But if you don’t cook it, of course, there’s a risk of bacterial contamination. (Memo to vegans everywhere: This is why the rest of us don’t eat our poultry “medium rare.”) So, as the Attorney General concludes, a health warning would make no sense “where the chemical in question is created by a process [cooking] that actually has the net effect of making the food safer to eat, i.e., killing bacteria.”
It must really drive PCRM nuts that the cancer-causing properties of PhIP have only been established in laboratory tests performed on animals. While pondering that irony, we recommend this lime-marinated grilled chicken recipe from the “Cooking for Engineers” website. We’ve tried it. It’s juicy, flavorful, and guaranteed to annoy a vegan activist near you.