Thursday, June 15, 2006

“A nutrition advocacy group sued KFC [Tuesday] to get it to stop using partially hydrogenated oils, a key ingredient of its fried chicken,” began a New York Times article. “The oils contain trans fat, which scientists consider the most unhealthful of all fats.” A few paragraphs on, the NYT informs its readers that “Trans fat became part of fast-food meals in the 1980’s, after consumer groups demanded that the chains stop frying in beef tallow and palm oils because those products are highly saturated.”

So here we have a “nutrition advocacy group,” called the Center for Science in the Public Interest, suing KFC for frying its chicken in trans-fat rich oils. We later learn that the reason KFC uses this type of oil is because “consumer groups” successfully lobbied to get KFC to stop using beef tallow and palm oils. Would it surprise readers to learn, though the NYT fails to mention it, that those unnamed “consumer groups” from the 1980s included the Center for Science in the Public Interest? Knowing that is all one really needs to know about CSPI and its perennial campaigns to rid the country of free choice.

Admittedly, back then trans fat was not considered to be the killer it is now, evidenced by what one nutrition advocacy group said in 1988: “All told, the charges against trans fat just don’t stand up. And by extension, hydrogenated oils seem relatively innocent.” Wait, as the Center for Consumer Freedom reminds us, that was CSPI writing in its Nutrition Action Healthletter.

For this reason and others, nutritionist Mary Enig, a former editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, wrote: “It is impossible to measure the hazards and grief that [CSPI director of nutrition Bonnie] Liebman and [executive director Michael] Jacobson… have inflicted on many millions of an unknowing public.” Today, no one denies that Americans are consuming far too much trans fat. But if anybody should be sued for this reason, it is the scolds at CSPI who forced the fast-food chains to start using partially hydrogenated oils.

CSPI has filed its suit in D.C. Superior Court, which would make any ruling binding only to Washington, but it’s the precedent the nanny police are after. Although obesity- and fat-related lawsuits haven’t fared well in court, the constant filings by the CSPI crowd mean it’s only a matter of time before some activist judge decides for the country what it should eat. Which is why the Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass the aptly named Commonsense Consumption Act to prevent these frivolous lawsuits from seeing the light of day.

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