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Obama’s surgeon general nominee advises Burger King
In 2007, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Burger King in Washington, D.C., over its use of trans fats, but the company stopped using the product and a judge eventually threw out the lawsuit. The case is under appeal. Doctors say trans fats raise bad cholesterol levels and can increase the risk of heart problems. Many big fast-food chains have stopped using trans fats.
Among other moves in recent years, Burger King has been offering fresh-cut, skinless apple slices made to look like french fries at its locations across the country. The company in 2007 also said it was restricting ads for unhealthy food aimed at children.
Since her nomination, Dr. Benjamin has won support from both sides of the political aisle. Rep. Jo Bonner, Alabama Republican, said Mr. Obama “did himself and his administration proud” in picking Dr. Benjamin. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called her “an excellent choice.”
Like Mr. Obama, members of Congress praised Dr. Benjamin for running a small rural clinic and rebuilding it after fire and hurricanes.
“When people couldn’t pay, she didn’t charge them,” Mr. Obama told reporters last month. “When the clinic wasn’t making money, she didn’t take a salary for herself.
“When Hurricane Georges destroyed the clinic in 1998, she made house calls to all her patients while it was rebuilt,” Mr. Obama said. “When Hurricane Katrina destroyed it again and left most of the town homeless, she mortgaged her house and maxed out her credit cards to rebuild that clinic for a second time.”
The Burger King advisory position is one of several outside jobs that Dr. Benjamin has held since last year, according to her disclosure form.
She also reported receiving more than $20,000 for serving on another advisory board at Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods, one of the country’s largest food producers with products such as David Sunflower Seeds, Crunch ‘n Munch, Healthy Choice and Chef Boyardee.
Dr. Benjamin reported more than $90,000 in earnings from her former role as chairman of the Federation of State Medical Boards and $8,000 for being an expert witness for the American Medical Association.
In addition, she received meeting and speaking fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to $7,000 for appearances with groups such as the California Hospital Association and Kaiser Family Foundation.
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