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Trans Fats, Ctd. - PointOfLaw Forum

[Thanks to the Heartland Institute for this tip]

In 1988, the Center for Science in the Public Interest demanded McDonald's cease using beef tallow to cook its French fries and instead substitute partially hydrogenated cooking oils that contain trans fat. CSPI contended partially hydrogenated oils are relatively innocent compared to beef tallow. CSPI's Web site still claims this as one of its food police victories.

But on the same Web site, CSPI touts a class-action lawsuit it has filed against KFC demanding it stop using oil containing trans fat, which it alleges kills 50,000 Americans a year. CSPI seeks damages of $74,000 per class member, plus punitive damages and attorney fees.

The complaint alleges that in 2003, a panel of the National Academy of Health's Institute of Medicine concluded the only safe level of trans fat in the diet is zero, and in 2004 a Food & Drug Administration advisory panel concluded trans fat is even more harmful to humans than saturated fat.

The CSPI complaint alleges KFC's use of these oils is "outrageous and performed with evil motive, intent to injure, ill will" and that KFC is acting "without regard for the health and well being" of its customers.

From the Chicago Tribune, www.AmericanHeart.org, and the CSPI complaint at http://www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/final_complaint.pdf

As the LA Times reports, Yum Foods (owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken) has just been sued by a retired physician, represented by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. The plaintiff claims that when he purchased KFC's extra-crispy chicken he did not know it was cooked in partially hydrogenated oil. He is seeking class action status, as presumably other folks were similarly ignorant.

The plaintiff has not claimed injury. He has not claimed he is sick because of eating the chicken, or that the food was unfit to be consumed, or illegal in any way. He is claiming that trans-fats should be removed from restaurant menus across the land.

But isn't this a matter for public ordering (legislation, regulation), not tort law? Sanctions, anyone?


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