Saturday, June 25, 2005

Maine also to Protect Food Industry

Earlier this week I wrote about the Pennsylvania House passing a bill to protect the food industry from obesity-related lawsuits. In Maine, as reported in, Governor John Baldacci signed a bills Friday to shield restaurants from litigation filed by customers who blame the establishments for their weight problems.

As in Pennsylvania, the Restaurant Association in Maine is just thrilled with the passage of the law that now protects them from lawsuits. Richard Grotton of the Maine Restaurant Association said he supports a new law that prevents what he called "frivolous obesity lawsuits."

Except in instances of deception, restaurants in Maine will become immune from lawsuits in which people claim that food sold by the restaurant made them fat. "There has to be some personal responsibility here," he said.

Given the emerging evidence that many ingredients in various foods are potentially harmful, and even "addictive," why are we allowing state legislatures to act in what may not be our best-interest?

To give you some examples...

1) On June 10th, I wrote about HNE creation in fried foods. The toxin in question -- 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) -- collects in high amounts in polyunsaturated oils that have linoleic acid, which include canola, corn, soybean and sunflower. The International Herald Tribune reported on a study that revealed the risks associated with re-heating vegetable oils in cooking. The findings, the researchers say, highlight the risk of reheating the oils or reusing them, since the amount of the compound, known as HNE, increases with each heating.

Restaurants use oil again and again - how much HNE are you being exposed to when you choose foods fried in that oil? There are no warnings to alert you to the potential danger, yet we know the danger and so does the restaurant industry!

2) I wrote about McDonalds bringing back their Super-Size, 42-ounce soda. And they didn't just bring it back - they're giving it away FREE with a Big Mac and Fries. With such a promotion, you're now exposed to HNE's AND excess calories, and let's not forget, trans-fats.

3) That's right, they're still serving up french fries and other foods riddled with trans-fats. As reported by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, McDonald's recently settled a lawsuit started because they had promised to reduce trans-fats in their foods and then they didn't. When McDonald’s announced that it was reformulating its frying oil to contain less trans fat, the company told the public that its fried foods would be healthier. By retracting its promise as quietly as it did, McDonald’s purposefully deceived its customers.

As noted by CSPI, [w]hile this settlement will help undo some of the damage, McDonald’s should keep its promise and change its frying oil, as it already has in Denmark and Australia. All restaurants of any kind should immediately switch to healthier oils for the sake of their customers’ health.

4) Let's not forget to mention High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the ingredient of choice in many foods and beverages today. Jimmy Moore [Livin' La Vida Low-Carb] has taken on this issue with a level of passion that has even the Corn Refiners Association taking notice! The evidence to date shows that HFCS isn't as beneign as we've been led to believe and may be detrimental to health in the long-term. In an upcoming article here, I'll be reviewing the evidence for my readers.

These are just four examples that highlight the issues related to obesity in the United States. To claim it is soley "personal responsibility" belies the fact that 2 out of every 3 Americans are overweight, with 1 of the 2 obese. If we look at statistics from other countries, they're either a heck of a lot more responsible than Americans or they're not being fed a steady diet of foods that stimulate weight gain, all the while being told just eat in "moderation" and exercise - limit your calories - added sugar can be up to 25% of your total calories - eat more grains - eat more whole grains - make better choices.

Where are the messages that state simply - stop eating junk food - and a demand for better, healthier foods?

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