Mark Steyn revisits the subject of Kinder Surprise eggs, the chocolate-wrapped toys popular in much of the rest of the world but forbidden under a distinctive U.S. law which bans the “embedding of non-nutritive items” in confectionery. According to the Department of Homeland Security, border agents confiscated more than 25,000 of the prohibited treats in more than 2,000 seizures during one recent year. Earlier here (Steyn: “The real choking hazard is the vise-like grip of government”), here, etc.
Two of my enduring interests — excessive government regulation and the quest for truly scrumptious cinnamon buns — intersect here in a single story from Denmark. [Guardian]:
…scientists have now discovered that too much of the most commonly used type of cinnamon, cassia, can cause liver damage thanks to high levels of coumarin, a natural ingredient found in the spice.
The EU has accordingly decreed that coumarin levels must be kept below 50 mg per kg in “traditional” or “seasonal” foodstuffs eaten only occasionally, and 15 mg per kg in everyday “fine baked goods.”
Last month, the Danish food authority ruled that the nation’s famous cinnamon swirls were neither traditional nor seasonal, thus limiting the quantity of cinnamon that bakers are allowed to use, placing the pastry at risk – and sparking a national outcry that could be dubbed the great Danish bake strop.
The president of the Danish Bakers’ Association, Hardy Christensen, said: “We’ve been making bread and cakes with cinnamon for 200 years. Then suddenly the government says these pastries are not traditional? I have been a baker for 43 years and never come across anything like this – it’s crazy. Using lower amounts of the spice will change the distinctive flavour and produce less tasty pastries. Normally, we do as we’re told by the government and say OK, but now it’s time to take a stand. Enough is enough.”
“I guess you can never be too careful with your Christmas lights.” — @doctorwes
A few other highlights of Overlawyered Christmas coverage past:
- Claim: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” promotes bullying 
- “Cease this shouting!” cried Grinch, “From all Yule din desist!” But he’d Moved To The Nuisance and so, case dismissed [Art Carden 2010, original link]
- “Law firm offers divorce vouchers for Christmas” [U.K., 2009]
- Under the Christmas tree? Authorities penalize child care center in North Carolina after discovering plastic soldier figures on the premises, “reflect stereotyping and violence.” 
- “As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought…….The two turtle doves’… romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.” [“Restructuring at the North Pole,” 1999]
Organizers at a church in Neath, Wales don’t mind rules requiring the donkey-riding Mary in a childrens’ Nativity play to be wearing a crash helmet, or as the case may be “riding hat.” They say the eight-year-old’s costuming can readily be arranged to conceal the anachronistic headgear during the Christmas procession. No word on whether, as at petting zoos, participants coming in contact with the animal will need to apply hand sanitizer before proceeding. Critics term the rule “‘elf – ‘n’ – safety.” [BBC, Telegraph]
I have a nomination over at Cato at Liberty.
Whence Congress enacted and President Obama signed the NOEL law (Naughtiness Obliteration and Elimination Law of 2012):
…(1) Imposes a naughtiness “fee” of $50 upon each American child for every documented instance of their “naughtiness.” Revenues from this “fee” are to support the Federal Nice Fund (FNF), a newly created fund for public-works projects in NOEL-compliant states. (NOEL, § 3(a).)…
(4) To ensure full compliance, the NOEL bars any “person, group, or agency” that receives “funding, or any benefit from the federal government” from making a “material naughtiness determination” contrary to rules promulgated by the NRB, with the consequence of such a contrary determination being withdrawal of the federal funding and/or other benefit. (Id., § 22(z)(12)(F)(vii)(¥)(‰) (LOL)(¿)(?)(D).)…
Relax. It’s not real (yet). It’s just Prof. Kyle Graham’s constitutional law exam holiday card.
On Hallowe’en I often recall my ancestor Lydia Gilbert of Windsor, Ct., convicted of witchcraft in 1654 and probably executed (accounts here, here). Three years earlier Henry Stiles had been killed by an apparently accidental discharge of the firearm of neighbor Thomas Allyn, and three years later Lydia was charged with being the true cause of this misadventure. In modern American law we might call that third-party liability. And from a few years ago, a durable favorite post: “Toronto schools: Halloween insensitive to witches.”
- “Kerr received a 37-page temporary restraining order last Friday which seeks to shut down her [too-popular] haunted house.” [Silver Spring, MD; ABC News]
- Blockbuster “60 Minutes” on the federal Social Security disability program, if you haven’t seen it yet [CBS; Chris Edwards, Tad DeHaven at Cato; ABA Journal on Kentucky lawyer and more]
- Chevron complaint against attorney Donziger over Ecuador shenanigans reaches trial Tuesday [Daniel Fisher] More: Michael Goldhaber, American Lawyer (“A Dickensian Cheat Sheet”);
- Ombudsman on South Dakota Indian foster care case: NPR “reporters and producers tried to push the story beyond the proof that they had. I don’t know why.” [NPR ombudsman]
- In America we use lawyers for that: “Rabbis Arrested in Plot to Kidnap, Torture Husbands to Force Divorce” [WSJ, CNN] From 1845, a British judge’s exquisitely arch observations on the then state of divorce law [Sasha Volokh]
- “Salvage company that lost $600M sunken ship case must pay $1M to Spain for ‘abusive litigation'” [ABA Journal]
- How Canada lost gun freedom [Pierre Lemieux, Liberty and Law]
Warner/Chappell Music continues to demand and collect royalties for public performance of the ditty, although its melody was first published more than 120 years ago and the familiar celebratory words have been sung to it for more than a century. A new lawsuit seeks a judicial ruling that the song is in the public domain and asks a return of wrongfully collected royalties. [The Hollywood Reporter via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
From the archives:
- Christmas in legalese: “…Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the woodburning caloric apparatus…”  And see TaxProf (“Claus thereafter immediately began to fill the stockings of the minor children… (Said items did not, however, constitute ‘gifts’ to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)”)
- Yuletide in old England less jolly given health and safety adjustments [2007, 2009]
- Santa’s extra helper might be a witness in case of litigation, and other items from the legal-Claus file 
- Gingerbread and chestnut-roasting hazards 
- “Law firm offers divorce vouchers for Christmas” 
- Does “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” promote bullying? 
- “Cease this shouting!” cried Grinch, “From all Yule din desist!” But he’d Moved To The Nuisance and so, case dismissed [Art Carden, Forbes on Whoville externalities]