Denny’s as “Public Health Enemy No. 1”, over-salty food as “silent killer” — yes, they really do talk that way at the uber-nannyish (and litigious) Center for Science in the Public Interest [AOL Slashfood, Consumer Law and Policy, Greg Conko/CEI “Open Market”]
The former FDA chief and inveterate nanny-state advocate, David Kessler, has a new book arguing that chain restaurant food is excessively palatable, to the point where it effectively addicts the chains’ customers. Jacob Sullum at Reason accords Kessler’s theories all the respect they deserve.
Mike Cernovich thinks the plaintiff suing over the sugar-laden beverage might have spared himself a lot of trouble by, you know, reading the label.
In the same world where chocolate and peanut butter supercollided to give us the peanut butter cup, it is not surprising that it would eventually not be sufficient to desire either a prepackaged a) drink that contains alcohol or b) energy drink. We must have both, and at the same time. While we have been blessed with a range of such delectable, ready-made beverages, like most things good and tasty they have rubbed the Center for Science in the Public Interest–the nanny state group that has had both alcohol and caffeine in its litigators’ sights for years–in all the wrong ways.
As reported here earlier this year, CSPI whined for months about caffeinated alcohol beverages–which it labels “alcospeed”–before eventually pressuring Budweiser to drop its offering and then suing Miller to stop it from selling Sparks Red. CSPI, which got support from few if any drinkers but a host of apparently underworked attorneys generals who can’t wrap their pointy heads around the notion that caffeine/alcohol combos like the Irish coffee, rum and Coke, or Red Bull and vodka are hardly a new concept, is (with the AGs) blindly claiming the company’s ATF-approved Sparks drink is bad hooch. Just last week, under pressure from the AGs, Miller agreed to postpone the launch of its Sparks Red.
Public Citizen’s blog announced that CSPI plans to sue the beverage sellers, asking for disgorgement of profits from flavored malt beverages, unless they agree to take them off the market. Their theory? By making flavored alcoholic beverages that taste good, they are effectively marketing to children. (Because, after all, adults don’t like beverages that taste good.) CSPI also claims that it violates FDA rules to sell alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine, which would be a surprise to every restaurant that offers Irish coffee.
“Wearing signs reading: ‘They’re Carbs not Contraband,’ ‘Give Us our Just Desserts’ and ‘We’re Old Enough to Choose,’ a dozen senior citizens picketed outside [a Mahopac, N.Y. senior center] protesting a recently imposed ban on the sugared treats at Putnam County-operated nutritional sites.” For years supermarkets and bakeries have donated day-old pastries to senior centers, but last month the county called a halt to the program, saying that the treats violated federal nutritional standards for the elderly and might pose safety dangers. The AP story carried this classically sensitive and humanistic quote from Michael Jacobson of that group of untiring busybodies, the self-proclaimed Center for Science in the Public Interest: “Senior citizens can walk down to the store and buy doughnuts. Nobody’s stopping them”. [Putnam County Courier; Westchester Journal-News; Associated Press]
Updating a few earlier stories we’ve discussed here…
- Two weeks ago we noted that a new online attorney rating site, Avvo.com, was being threatened with a lawsuit by John Henry Browne, a disgruntled Seattle criminal defense attorney. (Jun. 10). Well, whatever the merits or weaknesses of Browne as an attorney, one thing you can say about him is that he doesn’t make idle threats; last week, he filed suit against Avvo. The suit, designated a class action, contends that Avvo’s ratings are flawed. From all accounts, that’s almost certainly true, but as I mentioned in my previous post, it’s not clear that this presents a valid cause of action; Avvo is entitled to rank lawyers differently than John Henry Browne wants them to. In an attempt to get around this problem, the complaint trots out various “consumer protection” arguments using notoriously vague and broad statutes that don’t require that the plaintiffs identify any consumers who have been harmed. (Illustrating perfectly the phenomenon Ted discussed on Jun. 18).
Oh yes, and Browne also claims in the complaint that “at least two clients” of his fired him (in less than a week!) because of his “average” rating on Avvo. Let’s just say I’m rather skeptical of Mr. Browne’s ability to prove such a claim.
The law firm handling this class action case? Overlawyered multiple repeat offender Hagens Berman. (Many links.)
- Remember that lawsuit where Illinois Chief Justice Robert Thomas sued the Kane County Chronicle for defamation? (Apr. 2, Nov. 2006) Well, when last we heard, the libel award — originally an absurd $7 million — had been reduced to $4 million by the trial judge. Not surprisingly, the Chronicle still is unsatisfied, and does not feel it can get a fair shake from the very Illinois court system headed by Thomas; it has now filed a federal lawsuit claiming its constitutional rights have been violated. Named in the suit are Thomas, the trial judge who heard the case, and the rest of Thomas’s colleagues on the state Supreme Court.
- Kellogg’s bows to threats of frivolous litigation coming from the Center for “Science” in the “Public Interest”; agrees to limit advertising of its cereals to children.
Of course, this is portrayed as an issue of advertising, but as Michael Jacobson of CSPI admits, this litigation strategy is simply an attempt to drive products he disapproves of from the market. And now that Kellogg’s has capitulated, certain politicians are trying to force other companies to do the same.
Originally: Jan. 2006.
- We had previously reported (May 17) that the unfair competition lawsuit between Equal and Splenda had settled. Turns out that the two sides are still fighting, with each side accusing the other of reneging on the deal. (LI)
Steve Chapman finds that the “science” of the misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest in its KFC suit isn’t actually the sort that should be relied on too heavily, and observes:
…the health dangers of an occasional Extra Crispy drumstick are anywhere from negligible to nonexistent. But letting CSPI decide what’s best for all of us? Now, that’s risky.
(“Extra crispy chicken and deep-fried panic”, syndicated/Tracy (Calif.) Press, Jun. 19).
Meanwhile, carried along on a tide of credulous press coverage, CSPI says it’s thinking of suing Starbucks over its overly calorie-laden wares (“Starbucks May Be Next Target of Fatty-Fighting Group”, Reuters/FoxNews.com, Jun. 19). Amy Alkon is not impressed (Jun. 19), while Radley Balko (Jun. 17) picks up on perhaps the ripest absurdity in the report:
The union contends that Starbucks staff gain weight when they work at the chain. They are offered unlimited beverages and leftover pastries for free during their shifts.
“This is why organized labor is so important,” he adds. “Otherwise, who’s going expose Starbucks’ exploitive practice of giving its employees free stuff?”