“I was at a food safety conference a few years back that focused on raw milk, and one state public health official concluded his remarks by saying, to effect, “I personally don’t see why we spend all this time going after raw milk. If people are going to be stupid enough to drink it, then let them go ahead and kill themselves.”
Then, at a raw milk symposium a couple years after that, I heard a raw milk proponent give the other side of the same mind-set. “You know, things will change over the next few years, because the people who oppose us will die off from all the junk food they eat,” she said, referring to the public health regulators.
I always thought those attitudes, while not the sort of peace-making attitudes we’d like to envision, could be the basis of some sort of live-and-let-live approach to the wide gulf over food rights and food safety that exists in our society. It’s definitely preferable to the regulate-and-control approach that has driven oversight of raw milk.
But no, it seems as if the regulate-and-control approach has been judged such a success for raw milk, it’s being extended in a big way to junk food. New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is proposing to ban the sales of soda in containers of 16 ounces or greater. The idea is to reduce the obesity epidemic in the city—according to the New York Times report, more than half of New Yorkers are overweight or obese. I’ve seen other estimates that possibly two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese….”
And now a post on Tobacco lawsuits and obesity prevention
“Nutrition and child advocates are pushing for government policies to counteract the onslaught of junk food marketing targeted at our children.
But there’s something many don’t know: an array of lawsuits currently making their way through the courts could derail our ability to pursue these kinds of regulations.
Right now, judges are preparing to rule on cases that carry major implications for how products like candy, fast food, and soda are marketed to kids. These cases will decide whether the government can prohibit companies from giving free samples of harmful products to children. Whether the government can require stores to post warnings about a product’s dangerous health consequences. Whether the government can require effective disclosures so consumers know what’s in the products they are buying.
These issues and more are currently in play in federal courts around the country. So how could nutrition advocates not know about them?
Because the cases are all about tobacco.
The way our court system works, the outcome of each of these cases has serious implications for food policy, so it’s critical that advocates concerned about obesity and advertising to children pay attention and maybe even get involved.
In a “common law” system like ours, the decision of one court on one topic area may influence—or even bind—a later court interpreting a similar legal provision. So a court interpreting the First Amendment in a cigarette marketing case could be deciding not just what goes for tobacco but what goes for any product that any company wants to advertise.
For instance, an appeals court recently struck down a federal “tombstone advertising” law that limited tobacco ads to black text on a white background, with no pictures. The government’s justification for the law was that an information-only approach makes dangerous products less enticing to children….”