24 February 2011

Minnesota cheesburger bill would prevent fast food lawsuits

Obesity rates are at a record high in the U.S., and illnesses related to obesity such as diabetes and heart disease are threatening to cripple our healthcare system. So, what’s next? Lawsuits against those fast-food titans that tempt us with a half a day’s worth of calories between two buns? Not if the big boys of junk food can get some legislators on their side.

In what might be a trend of the future, a bill in Minnesota dubbed the “cheeseburger bill" would prohibit consumers from suing food companies for weight gain and health problems caused by consumption of fattening foods and sugary soda. The bill was approved by a Minnesota State House panel this week, and is on its way to the State Senate.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, who explained “Simply put, if you eat too many cheeseburgers and get fat, you can’t sue the food retailer. This is about personal responsibility and reform.”

While no lawsuits of this nature have been filed in Minnesota, Rep. Urdahl said “It’s just a matter of time.”

Urdahl is probably right. The fast food industry, like the tobacco industry, is peddling an unhealthy product that has serious health consequences for those who consume it. Surely people will start suing fast-food companies, just as they have sued tobacco companies. Bills such as this one, which according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press is supported by many food corporations and interest groups, is a preventive measure aimed at protecting companies offering unhealthy, fat laden food from being held responsible for the immense damage they are causing to people’s lives and health.

How about a law that attempts to protect consumers and makes these unhealthy food products, just like tobacco products, carry health warnings.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City where she loves to check out all the vegan eateries. When she's not writing for TDIV, Robin enjoys taking dance lessons, reading, practicing yoga, hanging out with her cat Maggie, baking vegan treats, and volunteering at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

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