Coffee Too Hot, Fries Too Tasty

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McDonald's is being sued again. An activist group accuses the company of false advertising for not reducing the trans fat in its french fries and other items.

The suit, filed on behalf of a California woman, says McDonald's has not disclosed "to the public in an effective manner that it had not switched to a new, healthier cooking oil."

The restaurant chain had announced it planned to cut the trans fat levels in its fried foods. But McDonald's has delayed the plan, citing concerns of product quality and customer satisfaction.

The anti-Oreo group, BanTransFats.com, cites a 2002 McDonald's press release in the lawsuit.

If you're a Reason subscriber, you should already have received the August/September issue, featuring Jacob Sullum's cover story about the War on Fat, a follow-up to last year's article on the food police. If you don't subscribe, here's how.

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  1. “We’re all victims” said the Roach to Opus in Bloom County. I do believe we have become a Nation of “It’s not my fault. The Twinkies made me do it” where personal responsibility is not recognised and juries are more than willing to reward huge sums of money to people because “the big corporations have been screwing us for a long time.” A lot of people don’t want to be responsible for themselves, they need a nanny and the Federal Government is fast becoming the Ultimate Nanny.

  2. Seen the McD’s commercial where the guys play poker with french fries? I’d love to win that pot, except they’re letting them get cold! As a fry fanatic, my feelings are so mixed…

  3. thoreau-
    Watch out for those tasty, low calorie foods they may make you fat when you encounter “real” food.

    Check out this pretty interesting story.

  4. thoreau,

    scientist are usually not rich – you ought to sue the pizza store; that’s where the money is!

    rst,

    nice post! I had to control my laughter.
    now, tell us what you really feel:-)

  5. Mo-

    Well, whatever the scientific consensus finally becomes on artificial sweeteners, one way or another John Banzhaf will find a way to file a suit over it.

    rst-

    You do raise a good point. I wonder how long it is before fat people claim to be stigmatized by the War on Fat. Right now the tactic is to portray fat people as victims, but at some point fat people might have a backlash and object to their “unique lifestyle choices” being framed as a pathology.

    Imagine a world where McDonald’s can be sued for serving a fat person a burger, and also be sued for discrimination if they refuse service. Sadly, we might be close to that point.

  6. I drink diet soda to avoid the insult done to my teeth by sugary liquids. I don’t kid myself that I’m doing it to control my weight, and yeah, I know the carbonation isn’t good for me either.

    At least I drink my tea black and unsweetened. That’s actually good for me.

    Kevin

  7. Yeah, that’s a real nice cover. Anyone we know?

  8. Why do some people just love banning things. I understand their concern about transfats, but why not just push for a labelling requirement? No.. we want to ban it FOR THE CHILDREN!

  9. Correction, we want to ban it for MICHEAL MOORE!

  10. OK, so, wait a minute: this idiot is suing McDonalds because it did not “adequately” inform the public that it had not yet followed through on a planned change? WTF?

    Isn’t the onus on the consumer, the one who is putting the shit in their mouth, to know what is in it? If I said, “I’m planning to hook up your bungee-jumping chord”, wouldn’t you check to make sure that my plan had come to fruition before you jumped?

    I could understand if McDonalds had claimed that it had already eliminated transfats, but didn’t, and, in actuality, committed fraud by lying. But planning to do something, and actually doing it, are two very different things.

    God help us if we start awarding money to people because they assumed that a planned action had already taken place.

    “Well, I read in the newspaper that they were planning to have that interstate overpass done sometime soon, so I drove up there past the cones and just assumed that it was finished. That’s when I went flying over the edge…now, gimme some money!”

    How fucking STUPID do you have to be, to not know the difference between plans and actions? But, then, we all know that this isn’t about stupidity, this is about cashmoney. If this is even considered, then we should all weep in shame.

  11. There are scientists out there planning to invent foods that taste as good as anything else but have zero calories. I’m just going to assume that this has already been done, then I’ll gorge myself on pizza, and when I gain weight I can sue the scientists who haven’t yet completed this project.

  12. I’m waiting for the dawn of Fat Culture, where similar to the deaf with their “Christian scientist” approach to auricular surgeries, we’ll *have* to leave all the trans fat in so that they can maintain their identity.

    I for one don’t want McDonald’s to change their oil. If you’re fat and/or have high cholesterol stay the fuck away from McDonald’s. It’s called exercise and Cheerios. You too can spend 30 minutes of your day reducing the massive burden you place on your heart, your knees, and your car’s suspension.

    Christ it’s a wonder parents are still toilet training their kids what with how out of vogue self-control has apparently become. Will they one day sue Gap for not putting little colostomy bags in their clothes?

  13. Only that story gets it ALL WRONG. McDonalds NEVER anounced any plans to reduce the fat in it’s cooking oils! It only announced plans to reduce the TRANS-fats in it’s cooking oils. I’m sorry but types of fat versus total fat is a very basic distinction that either the journalist or the lawsuit itself failed to get right. So perhaps this lawsuit is even stupider than it initially appears.

    Also the fat they planned to switch over to is not healthier. It is corn oil which is a highly reactive, free radical generating, omega 6 fat, of the type most people get an excessive and unbalanced amount of anyway.

    And why was McDonalds serving food with trans fat in it in the first place? Because they were pressured by health advocates years ago of the need to switch off saturated fats (even though saturated fats are in retrospect healthier). And now they are comtemplating switching off trans fats to the equally disasterous polyunsaturated fats. The reality is fries are not healthy and probably never will be (although frying in olive oil would be best but likely not adapted to most americans tastes). However, neither is ANY food really damaging if consumed as a rare indulgence.

    It was also stupid of course for McDonalds to announce something before it had any real plans in place to implement it. But is bad business decision making the same as legal liability? They never announced they actually switched over to a different fat only that they planned to. McDonalds was going to get sued whatever decision they made.

    (see for actual mcdonalds plans http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/50/40584.htm?pagenumber=1)

  14. Also by this logic can politicians be sued for betraying campaign promises?

  15. That Oreo case is scary stuff – almost hard to believe those guys are real.


    Can’t adults make their own intelligent choices about what to eat?

    Sure. But can children? Our lawsuit was not about adults. Our lawsuit only concerned children under the age of ten. Can a six-year old make an intelligent choice about what to eat? Try telling a six-year old about trans fat. Some may say it’s up to the parents to decide. Fine, but what if the parents don’t know about trans fat?

    So, basically, they were trying to get Kraft to stop selling something that isn’t illegal, restricted, or even especially dangerous, and which no one else has had to stop selling, because…because some people are ignorant. It’s for the children, of course. (“Our lawsuit was not about adults”, they say. What I’d ask in return is: is there any way to market and sell cookies that doesn’t affect children to some degree? Will Kraft be allowed to continue selling its original cookies if it just labels them differently? No? Then it is about adults.)

    I await the “Padded Cell Act of 2005”, which specifies that the world shall have no sharp edges or pointy corners, because a child might run into one and hurt himself. It’s not about adults, of course.

  16. Just require children to show id to buy cookies :).

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