McDonald’s settles trans fat claim

The fast-food chain has agreed to settle charges arising from its having missed a self-announced deadline for reducing the use of trans fats in its cooking oil. It will pay $7 million to the American Heart Association for an educational campaign, $1.5 million to publicize its future progress in the quest for better fats, and unspecified attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs. The “chain said it had issued a news release in February 2003 saying its plans had been delayed,” but Stephen Joseph, a San Francisco attorney who runs a pressure group called BanTransFats.com, sued contending that the restaurant chain did not adequately publicize the setback. (Joe Garofali, “$7 million for suit on trans fats”, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 12). For attorney Joseph’s earlier suit demanding unsuccessfully that the sale of Oreo cookies to kids be banned, see May 13, 2003.

Foodmakers say the use of trans fats is the only practicable way left to avoid the prospect of limp and off-flavored French fries and donuts, in part because earlier campaigns succeeded in demonizing butter, animal and tropical fats, though some of those fats are now considered less harmful than their replacements. Many nutritionists

had made their careers telling people to eat margarine instead of butter,” said Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of a handful of medical researchers who have led the fight against trans fat. “When I was a physician in the 1980’s, that’s what I was telling people to do and unfortunately we were often sending them to their graves prematurely.”

That certainly inspires confidence in the idea of giving nutritionists access to the coercive machinery of government to enforce their recommendations, doesn’t it? (Kim Severson and Melanie Warner, “Fat Substitute Is Pushed Out of the Kitchen”, New York Times, Feb. 13).

One Comment

  • Be careful what you ask for….

    Overlawyered has an article discussing McDonald’s settlement of the transfat lawsuit. More interesting to me is the fact that McDonald’s apparently only switched to using transfat at the urging of nutritionists and groups that wanted McDonald’s to st…