I am fat and its your fault
July 26, 2002 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I am fat and its your fault Has america really degraded into such a victim society that this is a valid reason to sue?
"They said `100 percent beef.' I thought that meant it was good for you," Barber told Newsday. "I thought the food was OK."
common people, how about getting a clue with that super size.
posted by vincentmeanie (77 comments total)
 
First the tobacco industry, now the fast food industry! Maybe someone should serve this guy a boiling hot cup of coffee from McD's w/o the warning label "Caution! Contents May Be Hot!" and see if he drinks it straight off.
posted by illusionaire at 4:19 PM on July 26, 2002


We all knew this was coming, correct? After the cigarette companies were successfully sued, I often heard "well, then maybe I should sue McDonalds for my 44 inch waistline!" said in jest.

In this instance, it's a frivolous lawsuit and will be rightfully lost.
posted by mathowie at 4:20 PM on July 26, 2002


America is a magic place where nothing bad ever just happens by chance and nobody is responsible for their own irresponsible behaviors. You have to love it here.
posted by shagoth at 4:21 PM on July 26, 2002


We better take down Big Fast Food, they are killing America's children.
posted by insomnyuk at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2002


common people ; that wouldn't be a Freudian slip showing there would it?
I hate this tendency to seek compensation at the slightest excuse. Kids playgrounds round here no longer have any equipment because the local authority is scared of getting sued if a nipper grazes his knee.
posted by Fat Buddha at 4:28 PM on July 26, 2002


Let's also sue pigs, chickens, cows an avocados for being delicious!
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:34 PM on July 26, 2002


when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro ...
posted by aenemated at 4:35 PM on July 26, 2002


Yes, Mathowie, after cigarettes, booze and junk food were sure to follow...
posted by zekinskia at 4:36 PM on July 26, 2002


I've been sitting here all day, and it's Metafilter's fault!

Oh, yeah. I guess I'm at work, too.
posted by interrobang at 4:38 PM on July 26, 2002


We all knew this was coming, correct?

To the MeFi front page?

Yes. Yes we did.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:39 PM on July 26, 2002


I was shocked when lot of otherwise intelligent people of my acquaintance rejoiced at all the recent gigantic tobacco industry settlements. I thought is was near-totalitarian persecution of a perfectly legal private industry (albeit one that still gets government subsidies). Well, now they're going after my pet bugaboo, fast food, and as long as it's open season on legitimate businesses, I don't mind seeing fast food go under. In fact, I'd be perfectly happy if the Department of Agriculture were taken over by the Hari Krishnas. I love that brown rice hippie food. Plus, it's good for you.
posted by Faze at 4:40 PM on July 26, 2002


"They said `100 percent beef.' I thought that meant it was good for you," Barber told Newsday. "I thought the food was OK."

Think of all the free anti-biotics you got, you damn ingrate.
posted by machaus at 4:41 PM on July 26, 2002


Slow Food
posted by Fat Buddha at 4:52 PM on July 26, 2002


This guy just might be the dumbest man in America. Unless this is some sort of activist stunt trying to expose the evils of the nasty fast food industry. But then that is probably just wishful thinking.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 4:57 PM on July 26, 2002


I was shocked when lot of otherwise intelligent people of my acquaintance rejoiced at all the recent gigantic tobacco industry settlements. I thought is was near-totalitarian persecution of a perfectly legal private industry (albeit one that still gets government subsidies).

In all fairness, the tobacco industry lawsuits were based on illegal actions taken by that perfectly legal private industry. The state governments argued that the tobacco companies fraudulently hid research showing tobacco to be dangerous: this illegal fraud led to increased costs for the states' health care programs. It certainly was not as simple as "cigarettes cause cancer, so the companies that make cigarettes are responsible for costs associated with this cancer."

It seems that this fast food lawsuit has a similar hook: the plaintiff is arguing that fast food companies have misrepresented their products as healthy. This false advertising would be illegal, and it would make the companies liable for the plaintiff's poor health. Doesn't seem like an argument that has much merit. Still, I think it's important to keep in mind that these lawsuits must be based upon some illegal act by the companies, not simply upon their legal production of a legal product.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:02 PM on July 26, 2002


I'm gonna sue my meth dealer.
posted by mccreath at 5:25 PM on July 26, 2002


Next thing you know, people will be suing their parents: "I am stupid and it is your fault! Why did you give me bad genes?"

Aughh. Americans.

(On a semi-related note: When this obesity thing gets really ugly, the fast food chains can just use the "you-should've-sent-your-food-to-the-starving-people-in-Africa" defense--after all, it worked on my parents. hee.)
posted by lillitot at 5:28 PM on July 26, 2002


the plaintiff is arguing that fast food companies have misrepresented their products as healthy

I don't think I have ever seen a McDonald's commercial that claimed the Big Mac was healthy. 100% yes, but even 100% beef eaten a pound at a time twice a day will unfortunately make you gain weight.

I found this quote entertaining:

"There is direct deception when someone omits telling people food digested is detrimental to their health," Hirsch said.

I guess there will be warning labels on all food forthcoming.

My thoughts are that too much of anything is going to put on the pounds, especially when coupled with a couch potato lifestyle. You can actually get obese on health food too.
posted by Orb at 5:34 PM on July 26, 2002


Brown says, "Have some more pie."
posted by Holden at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2002


McDonald's can call as their first witness that guy that ate his 18,000th Big Mac not too long ago....he was something of a stringbean for all the fat he consumed.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:01 PM on July 26, 2002


Any business that serves the public in anyway in the U.S. should just shut down now. It would help clear up court congestion.

I see an out of court settlement arising out of this. One of those situations where it's less expensive for the restaurants to settle then battle through the courts. Should be interesting.
posted by Salmonberry at 6:30 PM on July 26, 2002


100% beef eaten a pound at a time twice a day will unfortunately make you gain weight.

This is the basic tenet behind the Atkins diet which (surprisingly) seems to work for some people. Can't say the idea of eating nothing but eggs, cheese, and meat really appeals to me a whole lot though...
posted by kaefer at 6:34 PM on July 26, 2002


"Can't say the idea of eating nothing but eggs, cheese, and meat really appeals to me a whole lot though..."

Sounds good to me, except for the eggs part. I could eat soft-shelled tacos every meal of every day and be perfectly content.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:36 PM on July 26, 2002


I was talking about this with a friend earlier, and she brought up a point I hadn't thought of. We have a few friends that are ... well ... large, and they eat out all the time, but not at fast food places. As far as I know, restaurants don't have their nutrition facts publicly posted anywhere. Are restaurants next?

I agree with salmonberry, all businesses that serve the public should just shut down now.
posted by Orb at 6:41 PM on July 26, 2002


The cigarette company comparisions are ridiculous. Not only were they hiding facts and publishing disinformation on how dangerous and addictive tobacco is they won't even disclose what's in some cigarettes. I believe Marlboro(?) cannot be sold in Canada for this reason.

The fast food industry has been providing nutritional information for a while now and 100% beef means 100% beef. He could have a case if they sold 50% beef and 50% sugar. This guy has no case. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame buddy.
posted by skallas at 6:51 PM on July 26, 2002


I've slathered on a few pounds in the past 9 months or so. It's mainly because I quit smoking. Therefore, I'm suing everybody.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2002


PinkStainlessTail, I quit on March 6th. Oddly enough, I've lost weight--even as my beer consumption has increased.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:58 PM on July 26, 2002


Alcohol - the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:07 PM on July 26, 2002


but even 100% beef eaten a pound at a time twice a day will unfortunately make you gain weight

Assuming, then, 2 pounds of beef a day (and furthermore, we'll assume a spherical hunk of beef -- no fat, no inedible gristle or bone.)

That works out to just under 4000 calories a days. It's trivial to eat that much and not gain weight -- you'll need a little exercise, but not much. There are athletes that eat three times that per day.

I digress. The fact that the guy sued is meaningless. The courts may well tell him to go to hell tommorow. If the guy wins the suit, then you worry.

(And those comparing this to the McDonalds Coffee Cup suit need to go read what really happened.)
posted by eriko at 7:11 PM on July 26, 2002


(And those comparing this to the McDonalds Coffee Cup suit need to go read what really happened.)

Good idea. Here's some McFacts that haven't been widely reported about that case.
posted by yhbc at 7:17 PM on July 26, 2002


Once again, The Onion is years ahead of its time.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 7:21 PM on July 26, 2002


I could eat soft-shelled tacos every meal of every day and be perfectly content.

Unfortunately, the soft-shell you refer to is carbohydrate laden, so the tacos, on that diet, would be a no-go.
posted by brittney at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2002


Hey, I wanna see a picture of this fat guy!

What the hell's the internet for, I wanna see him!

This lack of pictures is anguishing me. Mentally.
posted by dfowler at 7:59 PM on July 26, 2002


When this lawsuit is over, I expect McDonalds will start refusing to serve fat people. Starting with this asshat.
posted by timyang at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2002


Why is this even going to court?
Couldnt the judge or something look at the papers this guy submited, and then just dismiss it? Instead of wasting tons of money on a court case?
posted by Iax at 8:30 PM on July 26, 2002


Color me less than surprised. While the tobacco execs were saying "I believe nicotine is not addictive" their lawyers were anticipating this would be the next form of litigation they would face. No, they don't own McDonald's, but Philip Morris=Kraft Foods and RJReynolds=Nabisco.
posted by sillygit at 9:13 PM on July 26, 2002


Maybe there's nicotine in the burgers! That would explain a lot of my behaviour....I fast food even when I don't really want to. I'm eating it right now.

Sue the bastards! Class action, anyone?
posted by Salmonberry at 9:23 PM on July 26, 2002


Here's some McFacts that haven't been widely reported about that case.

Especially McFacts 1, 2, and 3.

My father developed considerably more sympathy for this ruling after he was burned on the arm by spilled coffee at some coffeeshop: much cooler coffee still produced a 2nd-degree burn, permanent scarring, and, in general, a serious ouch.

Now this lawsuit, on the other hand...
posted by thomas j wise at 9:29 PM on July 26, 2002


Most lawsuits are businesses suing businesses.
posted by dglynn at 11:26 PM on July 26, 2002


while i don't like the fast food chains much and i think they are at least partially responsible for a lot of health-related misery in this country, litigation is not a good way to address the problem. does anyone really think that people in this country smoke less as a result of the massive jury verdicts against the tobacco companies? we need a regulatory approach to fast food that focuses on educating the public and incentivizing good choices about nutrition. How about a hefty fast food sales tax or mandatory nutritional labels on that big mac carton? that would probably have a far greater impact on the public than a lawsuit.
posted by boltman at 11:27 PM on July 26, 2002


In other news Southwest Airlines is now serving Big Macs...before the weigh in.
posted by poodlemouthe at 1:04 AM on July 27, 2002


we need a regulatory approach to fast food that focuses on educating the public and incentivizing good choices about nutrition

You have to be kidding. The people who -- today, in the year 2002 -- are unable to reason that if you consume more than you "burn off" throgh physical activity you will become fat, deserve Darwin Awards and not more big government programs in their honor.

A fast food sales tax would be ridiculous too, but then medicine is unfortunately becoming ever more socialized/tax-payer financed, and then I can actually see some basis for it.
posted by dagny at 1:06 AM on July 27, 2002


Time to point to the longest libel trial in UK legal history

Lots of details on nutrition, advertising & the like...
posted by i_cola at 1:29 AM on July 27, 2002


we need a regulatory approach to fast food that focuses on educating the public and incentivizing good choices about nutrition

We already have these. They are called: parents and common sense. Please don't tax the rest of us (always the easy, wrong answer) because of the feeble minded few.
posted by owillis at 2:36 AM on July 27, 2002


It came faster than I thought. At this speed all auto makers are in serious danger since most people own automobiles that aren't "smart" enough to know stupid people can drive. Next up: fans. Those dangerous products don't even have a warning label to caution people from the rotating blades of death.
posted by brent at 3:20 AM on July 27, 2002


We already have these. They are called: parents and common sense.

You mean that overweight people have bad parents?
And thin people are a product of caring families?
posted by matteo at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2002


Hey Cyber-libertarians,

If the settlement from the lawsuit results in visible, legible, truthful nutritional information, then let them sue.

Supersizing seems kind of slimey to me, too. And fastfood places tend to target the working poor, who are often minorities.

If the glove fits, you must convict!
posted by mecran01 at 6:33 AM on July 27, 2002


And what about the 'nutritional information sheets' that McDonalds send out to schools? Who do the kids believe, their parents and common sense or McDonalds, which is telling them that Burgers are good for them?

OK, the occasional burger poses no threat as part of a sensible 'diet' (I use the word in the daily intake of food sense, rather than the losing weight sense) and this, in essence, is what is contained in the 'fact' sheets McDonalds send out. What do the kids hear though? 'Burgers are fine, fries are fine, soft drinks are fine, go ahead and eat them'. And thats precisely what they do.

Why is this so important to the fast food firms? 'Influencing elementary school students is very important to soft drink [and by implication fast food] marketers because children are still establishing their tastes and habits' (Beverage Industry Magazine Jan 1999, cited in Fast Food Nation). In other words - get 'em hooked early.

Personally (naively?) I hope the case focuses on this aspect of the 'McDonalds is healthy' claim, and that as such it might actually benefit the common good.
posted by barnsoir at 6:57 AM on July 27, 2002


You mean that overweight people have bad parents?
And thin people are a product of caring families?


*sigh* it means people are not mindless automatons who can't control their urges and desires. And if anyone over the age of five thinks McDonald's is healthy... well, they're beyond help anyway.
posted by owillis at 9:20 AM on July 27, 2002


it must've been nice before McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken existed. you know, when it was impossible to become obese?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:32 AM on July 27, 2002


It's funny you should say that mcsweetie, because I was just thinking about nutrition, in Britain during world war 2. It is pretty well known that genearlly peoples standards of nutrition went up. "Many people were better fed during wartime food rationing than before the war years. Infant mortality rates declined, and the average age at which people died from natural causes increased."
This was because of rationing, not despite it, fat, sugar, meat and dairy products were all very scarce, and the population has never been healthier.
Try some Woolton Pie.
posted by Fat Buddha at 10:15 AM on July 27, 2002


owillis:
And if anyone over the age of five thinks McDonald's is healthy... well, they're beyond help anyway.


O.K. So if anyone over the age of let's say, fifteen, thinks that corporations do care about their customers' well-being, they're beyond help and can't possibly sue for dangerous or faulty products they've bought.
They can't complain about Enron-like companies fucking their employees and shareholders in the ass, right? I mean, CEO's are not Santa Claus or Mother Teresa right, we all know that right?

owillis, you can *sigh* until you're blue in the face, but these whole "family values" thing is maybe very New Democrat and cool and all, but you can't deny the fact that in the case of fast food (just like cigarettes) government regulation would be a good thing -- parents and the way they raise you have nothing to do with it, this kind of "responsibility" talk it's just a good way for Republicans to make happy their lobbyists and their looniest voters in one fell swoop (like, Reagan's black "welfare queens" should get the fuck out of the house and look for work, those lazy bitches, but government subsidized businesses are instead good for America, even if they build shitty stuff and they'd die in a fair market)
Family stuff is also a way for Southern Democrats with national ambitions to distance themselves from the ghost of old sorry Mike Dukakis.

I mean, these guys cook their books all the time, but the real enemy of business is minimum-wage workers who'd love to have a lind of decent living wage (check out what's happening in Massachussets with minimum wage and Republicans)

The fat guy's lawsuit is ridiculous, but fast food is fucking poisonous, and those who manufacture it could improve it, maybe, I think. Like, not using chicken skins and other crap to make McNuggets, so much healthier than beef-based burgers right? And maybe they could make it less unhealthy -- of course they'd have to shave a little profit... oh wait! I'm a communist! Right?
posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on July 27, 2002


matteo - every government health program in existence tells you fast-food is bad. Anyone who went through the public schools got a refresher course every year, to say nothing about the presidential fitness campaigns, advertising from private groups like the American Heart Association, the frequent TV reports, etc. The people eat fast food do not care.



Why should the rest of us be taxed in a futile attempt to force people to do something they don't want to do? It hasn't exactly worked with smoking - higher taxes are more likely to turn smokers into borderline-libertarians rather than non-smokers. The only crime here should be not providing accurate information to the consumer - let them choose and live with the consequences.



And, no, you're not a communist - trying to force your tastes on everyone else is closer to authoritarianism than communism, although the latter usually degenerates into the former.


posted by adamsc at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2002


Why should the rest of us be taxed in a futile attempt to force people to do something they don't want to do?

adam, excuse me but this tax thing is pretty annoying, looks like regular hannity and colmes tactics: do you know that cars didn't have seatbelts once upon a time, and they had crappy brakes?
Now they do have better safety, and they probably cost a few dollars more for that (not thousands, safety is often cheap).

I repeat, this lawsuit's crap, but fast food is poison, that's a fact, because of the carelessness of huge chains.

did you know that we owe that nice Mad Cow Disease to the fuckheads who decided to replace veggie-based animal food with cheaper sheep brains based stuff?
The bottom line of subsidy-loving corporations can cost a lot in terms of public health.
I mean, environmental regulations cost money you know? Are you a fan of grimy, dirty Victorian London's air? Breathing better costs money sorry.
I don't think that putting glands and skin and other shit in fast food is a cute thing. Maybe using better ingredients and frying oil and stuff will cost you a few cents more at Burger King (not 10 dollars more, a few cents).
And maybe you won't get bowel cancer or strokes or heart attacks (they're expensive too for the community, did you know that?)

This let's-defend-those-nice-corporations stuff is really peculiar. You know, they don't self police very well (the Hudson didn't clean itself up by a act of God you know? Enron style self-policing anyone?)

You know, using your standard, every law is authoritarian.
Your commie friend,
matteo
posted by matteo at 1:45 PM on July 27, 2002


The people who eat fast food do not care.

I don't know. Maybe they wouldn't mind a marginally less shitty burger, they wouldn't mind getting less cancer and heart disease, and taxpayers wouldn't mind less people getting ill and sick at home and not at work (anyway fatty foods are not necessarily fattening, lots of calories and carbs and sweets are much more fattening. Fatty foods are terrible for your heart-brain-gut).

There are two important criteria for choosing fast-food as consumer: it's -- res ipsa loquitur - fast, OK, and cheap (many people maybe can't afford healthier food, who knows, I'm always appalled at how greasy traditional American food is, compared to other kinds of foreign cuisine (more fish and rice or pasta and veggie based).

But it's chemically possible to make fast food less dangerous (ask anyone who's familiar with chemistry, don't trust me) and not make it very expensive in the process (your beloved "tax" part)
And what about all the money that McD and BK and the others get from federal programs (a lot)? It's your taxes you know?
posted by matteo at 2:11 PM on July 27, 2002


do you know that cars didn't have seatbelts once upon a time, and they had crappy brakes?
Now they do have better safety, and they probably cost a few dollars more for that (not thousands, safety is often cheap).
That's a fundamentally different situation - the problem isn't that the food is defective, it's the people who eat atrocious diets and never exercise.
I repeat, this lawsuit's crap, but fast food is poison, that's a fact, because of the carelessness of huge chains.
Fast food isn't poison (if it was, people would be dying in the streets given its popularity). It's not healthy if you eat too much but that's true of many other foods. I don't want someone deciding what I should and should not be allowed to eat - that's between me and my doctor.
This let's-defend-those-nice-corporations stuff is really peculiar. You know, they don't self police very well (the Hudson didn't clean itself up by a act of God you know? Enron style self-policing anyone?)
I'm not defending the corporations here and I'm hardly under the impression that they have my best interests at heart. The difference is that, unlike you, I don't think anyone is forced to buy their products and so the responsibility rests entirely with the buyer as long as the seller isn't misrepresenting their product. Pollution is by necessity different - I can't choose not to breathe and everyone in the area is exposed, not just people who choose to buy from them.
You know, using your standard, every law is authoritarian.
My choice of terms was not accidental. I'm strongly in favor of individual freedom and feel that government's role should be limited to protecting rights, enforcing contracts, and the few very large-scale issues which require more involvement like national defense or the environment. Most pertinently, I don't like legislating lifestyle choices - blue-laws and sin taxes a gross misuse of the power citizens give government. People should be allowed to do things I disagree with - as long as they know what they're getting into, it's their life and their business.

The people who eat fast food do not care.
I don't know. Maybe they wouldn't mind a marginally less shitty burger, they wouldn't mind getting less cancer and heart disease, and taxpayers wouldn't mind less people getting ill and sick at home and not at work
They do not care. I work with people like this - hell, I was one. They all know that that double-bacon cheeseburger with extra fries is bad. They all know that getting more exercise would be good. (I worked with a guy whose stated goal was to die fat, young and happy) None of them would appreciate someone trying to force a different lifestyle choice on them. Getting fit is a decision you have to make yourself.



As far as the health expense goes, it's time people got back into paying for that themselves. The best way for people to appreciate the costs of their lifestyle is to be responsible for it. They're going to care a lot more about higher health insurance premiums if the government isn't going to bail them out.

I'd be perfectly happy with medicare being refused for people who weren't following a prescribed fitness regimen - it's supposed to be a last resort. I don't have any business telling people what to do only as long as they don't expect me to pay for it.

There are two important criteria for choosing fast-food as consumer: it's -- res ipsa loquitur - fast, OK, and cheap (many people maybe can't afford healthier food, who knows,
In other words, people make choices. There are healthy options which are very similar in price and speed (e.g. say what you will about Subway, it's better than than a fast food burger and fries and it's a rare fast food place which doesn't have something like salad on the menu these days). Besides, anyone who's on that tight a budget could easily cook for themselves and save a ton of money while eating a much healthier diet.

And what about all the money that McD and BK and the others get from federal programs (a lot)? It's your taxes you know?
I'm quite aware of it and strongly oppose it. None of which has any bearing on the issue at hand.
posted by adamsc at 7:25 PM on July 27, 2002


adamsc...far too many line breaks man.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:31 PM on July 27, 2002


Wow. Radar is OUT.
posted by Quixoticlife at 9:02 PM on July 27, 2002


Now, he said "you have to be a rocket scientist" to be able to read labels that he said were deliberately designed to be confusing.

I never knew there were so many female rocket science hobbyists out there. (And male too (gender bias not intended))
posted by Quixoticlife at 9:08 PM on July 27, 2002


I don't want someone deciding what I should and should not be allowed to eat - that's between me and my doctor.

The FDA does that all the time, man

As far as the health expense goes, it's time people got back into paying for that themselves

You really do that, poor people are going to die like roaches and only the middle class and the rich will survive if they get sick (you know that about half of the people who go bankrupt in the US do so after getting sick and having huge hospital bills to pay? -- hmmm that's my communist Ira-Magaziner Hillary Scandinavian-Social-Engineering side again, sorry man I can't help it)

And what about all the money that McD and BK and the others get from federal programs (a lot)? It's your taxes you know?
*
I'm quite aware of it and strongly oppose it. None of which has any bearing on the issue at hand.


They DO have bearing, man. If these guys get a shitload of subsidies from tax money in order to pretend that they're teaching inner city kids and women some job skills (they're not, they're investing tens of millions in machines that require no skill whatsoever, they'd love to only have cheaply trained monkeys working in the kitchens and restrooms), well if they get federal money they could at least not put the shittiest part of chickens (skin) and beef (glands and other bad stuff) in their burgers, and maybe use less poisonous grease to fry them in
posted by matteo at 6:52 AM on July 28, 2002


Oh, here's a Seattle Times interesting story on eating habits of the poor
posted by matteo at 7:44 AM on July 28, 2002


The only crime here should be not providing accurate information to the consumer - let them choose and live with the consequences.

And the probable argument in this suit is that the same, basic caloric, carbohydrate and nutrient content information that is available for every product that you purchase in a supermarket is not sufficient information for the non-scientist consumer -- because you can get that same breakdown for just about every item on McDonald's menu. I know, because today, for the first time in ages, I went into a McDonalds and asked for a nutrition information sheet.

The only items not on this sheet (which is right here next to me) are the special time-limited menu items, and the new items. Big Macs, McNuggets, fries, shakes, even the sodas are all broken down, calories, fat grams, saturated fat grams, carbs, even fiber, vitamins and calcium.

It seems to me that the only way that this guy can legitimately claim deception is by convincing a judge that an adult consumer of normal intelligence believed advertisements of 100% pure beef to be more meaningful with regard to healthfulness of a Big Mac than the readily available statistics -- 590 calories, 310 of those from the 34 grams of fat, 11 of which are saturated fat grams, 85mg of cholesterol, 47g of carbohydrates and minimal fiber and vitamin content.

I smell a lawsuit that doesn't take the fast food industry to task for the healthfulness (or lack thereof) of their food, but for their advertising tactics and their willingness to entice the American public with images of food which looks perfectly good and tastes (to many consumers) perfectly good, while actually being perfectly awful for your health when consumed on a regular basis.

You really do that, poor people are going to die like roaches and only the middle class and the rich will survive if they get sick

Or the health of the nation overall will improve as people start taking better care for themselves, eating better, exercising, and paying attention to their health instead of just doing whatever the hell they want and relying upon their free or $5-$15 a visit doctors to help them fix things that should never have gone wrong in the first place. I know a number of people without insurance who've taken that as an incentive to improve their lifestyles, to be more diligent about preventative measures, and to be generally more careful because they know that they cannot afford to get seriously ill, so they're doing everythng they can to avoid it. Some of them do qualify, surely, for Medicaid, but they don't feel -- appropriately -- that it's anyone else's responsibility to pay for their health care.

If these guys get a shitload of subsidies from tax money in order to pretend that they're teaching inner city kids and women some job skills (they're not, they're investing tens of millions in machines that require no skill whatsoever,

Uh, there is more to "job skill" than knowledge of how to apply a particular skill toward a particular outcome. You must give any low-skill, low-wage job this much credit: it teaches people that jobs come with responsibility. You have to show up on time, you have to stay for your entire shift, you have to treat customers decently, you have to learn the tasks of your specific job because no one else can do it for you, you have to show up clean and looking decently, and if you blow off work, or abuse call-offs, you're going to get canned. Learning those things, as someone who has never held a job before, is just as important as knowing how to type or run a copier.

Oh, here's a Seattle Times interesting story on eating habits of the poor

Or, the lower-income who are so unmotivated to try to figure out how to make their food budget work for them healthily that a program had to be created in Seattle to teach them lessons that could be learned from any number of books that could be had (for free) at any library, or, better yet, by asking people who have lived on tight budgets in the past but still didn't feed their families prepared, boxed or frozen junk or McMeals every night. How much sympathy are we supposed to extend to someone who can't even figure out the simplicity and ease of fresh vegetables, or lentils which cook in 30 minutes, or beans soaked overnight while they sleep, and cooked while they work in a crockpot that can be purchased for $10 at WalMart? It may be easier to whine about how tired you are, how cooking is such a boring chore, and slap some crap down for your family to eat, but no one ever said that raising a family was always going to be easy. If can't extend a little for the sake of your kids' nutrition, if not you're own, I'm supposed to give a damn?
posted by Dreama at 9:45 AM on July 28, 2002


Dreama,
I hear you, and I agree with much of what you're saying, but many of those federal subsidies are directly related to things like "we'll teach people about food and complicated state of the art machinery and how to basically cook stuff", they're telling the govt "gimme money and I'll teach those people something more than 'show the fuck up and wash your hands before you touch food'"
I can learn about showing the fuck up on time and responsibility at my local family-run and non-government-subsidized greasy spoon or gas station or grocery store.
I don't like when it's considered cool to crap on "lazy, unmotivated poor people", using a very high standard for them, and at the same time it's considered OK that McD and BK and other mega-corporations are heavily helped by the govt with tax dollars (double standard here).

I'm supposed to give a damn?
Not you, you're not, it's a democracy and you can happily wipe your ass with sad statistics, especially if they don't touch you and those near you and the economic sector of society you happen to live in

But the government, at least in post-FDR America, is supposed to sometimes give a shit about the poor -- they're not all lazy assholes and evil "Welfare queens" (how elegantly Reaganesque, that slur, such a polite substitute for the n-word).
Or, you can just say FDR and I are both commies. I'm not in bad company anyway
posted by matteo at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2002


Matteo, this is not an "us vs. the poor" thing, no matter how much you want to make it out to be that way. This is an us vs. the stupid thing. Joe Rogan (comedian) sums it up nicely: "I'm not a dumb guy, and I don't think we should nerf the hard surfaces, and corners of the world because of idiots"
posted by owillis at 10:16 AM on July 28, 2002


oliver,
I've written many times here that I think the lawsuit's pathetic, guess we all agree.

The larger question was, is fast food OK the way it is produced and cooked and sold now, or is there actually a (reasonably cheap) way to make it less dangerous for the customer's health?
I think something can be done, you guys don't. No problem

(btw idiot-proofing the world is never been a battle I'm fond of -- I just like to point out that sometimes government subsidized corporations like those in the fast food business save a few pennies and in the process they damage the public health. they should do a little better
posted by matteo at 10:56 AM on July 28, 2002


I think people eat fast food because it tastes good. It tastes good because it has lots of fat, salt, and sugar. (Fries are typically coated in sugar so they will crisp nicely.)

If a fast food restaurant uses any partially hydrogenated oils in its products, though, that would be an excellent place to start improving things. Trans fats can be far worse for you than saturated fats.
posted by kindall at 12:50 PM on July 28, 2002


The larger question was, is fast food OK the way it is produced and cooked and sold now, or is there actually a (reasonably cheap) way to make it less dangerous for the customer's health? I think something can be done, you guys don't. No problem

Did anyone say that? I don't see anyone saying that. What I do see is a lot of people saying that this shouldn't happen because some jackass sues the companies for making him fat or because the government comes marching in high handed on our collective dimes and makes them do it. But the point is very clear on every McDonald's sign: billions and billions served, because most people clearly do not give a good damn how dangerous that Big Mac or those fries are. They want them, because they think that they're fast, tasty food, not because they think that they're the best fuel for the human body. That's their choice, that's their problem. Don't turn their problem into mine.
posted by Dreama at 5:08 PM on July 28, 2002


this shouldn't happen because some jackass sues the companies

we all agree on this

or because the government comes marching in high handed on our collective dimes and makes them do it.

how is it going happen then? how, man? by magic?
if the govt doesn't do that (by some kind of regulation), you really think McDonald's and BK and the others will change anything in their way of doing business and preparing unhealthy food to save a few pennies?

You probably also think that big corporations will just stop cooking their books just because they've now read on the WSJ that it's a bad thing. They self-police so well.

Fuck the government, it's just a useless, oppressive tool right?

Don't turn their problem into mine.
Oh. OK.
I rest my case
posted by matteo at 1:24 AM on July 29, 2002


you really think McDonald's and BK and the others will change anything in their way of doing business and preparing unhealthy food to save a few pennies?

What you don't seem to get is that people LIKE this unhealthy food, and they know it's unhealthy. Ergo, they do not want McDonald's and Company to change a thing. I for one, would not buy McDonalds if they switched over to McHealthy VeggieBurgers by some mandate up above. McDonald's and their other fast food companions are pro-money, do you think that if there were money in healthy food that they wouldn't be all over it?

You're confusing violation of law (Enron, etc.) to a company providing an unhealthy product to consumers who willfully want to consume it.

If McDonald's knowingly sells tainted beef, then their asses should be thrown in jail. But there's no crime in deep-fry.

(btw, I've read the very excellent Fast Food Nation and I still go to McDonald's)
posted by owillis at 1:36 AM on July 29, 2002


What you don't seem to get is that people LIKE this unhealthy food, and they know it's unhealthy. Ergo, they do not want McDonald's and Company to change a thing

Don't worry, I can stretch my little brain and finally get it if I work real hard, fact is I get your argument but don't _buy_ it, it's faulty logic.
Oliver, people like the TASTE, not the shit that's inside. The taste! Which, since you've read Schlosser, is chemically manufactured and enhanced, it almost does not have anything to do with the ingredients sadly...
Customers want the same test not the same bad ingredients and cooking methods

I'm not arguing McD should switch to McTofu, Jesus Christ, my English gotta suck real bad because I can't make myself understood, I feel very thomcat-like only I'm not as funny...
So: no McTofu, they should still make beef BigMacs and mcNuggets and all that. But, they could (and the govt should make them do it if they wanna keep getting federal bucks) CHANGE little important things, like use less shitty grease and oil (use some slightly less cheap and less unhealthy grease), no more skins (or less skins, they're poison) in the chicken burgers and mcNuggets, and so forth

Same taste, less harmful ingredients, no huge expense for the makers, less disease for the customers (illness have social costs, sorry for the lame European argument here)

If McDonald's knowingly sells tainted beef, then their asses should be thrown in jail
Let's wait. You know slaughterhosues
cut way too close to the bone for bigger profit, and nobody stops them, they're shaving splinters of bone and also marrow. Let's pray Mad Cow never comes to the US -- the Brits are still looking for the fuckers who produced and sold tainted beef to them because they rightly want to hang them
The food business is very very important and should be checked out very thoroughly by the govt: to make more money (cheaper food for animals is also more dangerous, the result in the UK was tons of toxic meat) corporations can put the public health at risk
posted by matteo at 5:28 AM on July 29, 2002


how is it going happen then? how, man? by magic?

It's going to happen if and when the consumers demand it, and not a moment sooner, which is completely appropriate. So long as there is money to be made selling garbage food to idiot consumers (in the main, I will acquiesce that there are thousands, if not millions of people who eat fast food on rare occasions as a treat, not as a regular part of their diets) then so be it. It is not government's duty to shut that down, or try to exert a change to it, even if government is working on our "behalf."

Fuck the government, it's just a useless, oppressive tool right?

When it's interfering in the perfectly legal activities of perfectly legal businesses, you're damned right it is. There are enough instances of corporations violating the law -- like the Eron-esque escapades that you keep referring to, Mattero -- to keep the government busy for a long while without jumping into places where they have absolutely no business going.
posted by Dreama at 5:28 AM on July 29, 2002


After simulposting, Matteo, you keep asserting that the government ought to make the fast food industry change its practices. Prove your assertion. What authorizes the US government to intrude upon this industry in this fashion? What demand is there, save your own, for the government to do so? What constitutional right would the government be protecting on our behalf if they demanded better ingredients in the mcnuggets and better oil for the fryers?

The U.S. government's actions are (supposed to be) limited by the Constitution because the framers were well aware that government could not be efficient or or appropriately restrained when acting as a surrogate parent or an omnipotent meddler, poking fingers into private business issues that could easily be resolved by allowing for normal market correction.

You'd prefer that we deviate from this model in the case of fast food restaurants, then where does it end? I'm not arguing the slippery slope canard, I'm asking about scope. Do we only go after MickeyD's? What about that heart attack on a plate, fettucine alfredo? Shouldn't the FDA or someone be at Olive Garden headquarters, demanding a switch to half and half and skim milk based cheeses? And what about Twinkies? Shouldn't Hostess come under scrutiny for the outrageous amount of fat and sugar in those innocuous looking little sponge cakes of death?

Throw open the doors to Kraft Foods - they have low or no fat analogs to almost all of their salad dressings and mayonnaises, so let's just mandate the full-fat versions right off of the store shelves. And all non-Canola or Olive cooking oils! And real sugar. And full-fat ice creams. And Oreos, and Fritos and tuna fish packed in oil, and cream-based soups from those killers at Campbells, and everything made by those bastard Keebler Elves or those poison-pushers from Pepperidge Farm. And just shut down the meat and deli and dairy departments. Nothing good can come from meat or cheese, those hams and processed hot dogs full of nitrites and salts. And ditch all the non-organic produce while we're at it.

Have I gone too far? Why? People eat all of those terrible things every single day, in mind-numbing quantities. Shouldn't government step in to protect us? Isn't the food business very very important and shouldn't the government investigate it thoroughly? Wouldn't it be cheap to initiate fixes or outright bans to all of the harmful consumables that Americans inhale in our apparent quest to become the fattest, sickest, most food-intoxicated, useless nation on the planet?
posted by Dreama at 5:50 AM on July 29, 2002


Can we at least argue lawsuits a little more inteliigently? Instead of saying, "damn those Americans" why not just pick apart the merits of the case? A tort has three elements.

1. The Negligence element. Does A owe a duty to B? If so, did they discharge that duty the way a reasonable person would?

2. The Causation element. Proximate and cause in fact; both terms of art but easily figured out.

3. Damages.

In this case, causation is going to be nigh impossible to prove. Was it the Wendy's or was it Ben and Jerry? If you can't show it, you can't win. That assumes that the plaintiff proves the defendants owe him a duty, which they probably do to make sure it is not infected with bacteria, but not to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
posted by norm at 8:52 AM on July 29, 2002


norm
no one here I think said _the lawsuit_ has merit

dreama
you know, swimming is dangerous. I say, let's remove all lifeguards (even those who look like Pamela Anderson, yes), if people drown, tough shit, they know it's dangerous
driving accidents kill thousands of people, driving is dangerous, if people dig that even if it's not for an emergency or going to work, fuck them, we'll turn off traffic lights on weekends to save public money. we'll also tell the car makers to throw away seatbelts and stuff, if they wanna die driving, fuck them, right?

I can appreciate your Jeffersonian point of view, but if we follow your ideas we end up with a non-existing government, except for courts and a very basic postal system.

Social Darwinism is a good idea for the 1700's maybe, but in those last few centuries there's this idea growing, accepted in almost all the First World Countries, that government should act towards the public interest, like to insure corporations dont fuck up the environment too much, and so forth. To regulate food, and the financial markets ( I know, the SEC is FDR's idea, that alone makes it under suspicion of communism)

I worry when the whole idea of government action is regarded as "Social Engineering", Reaganism way past its expiration date doesn't smell good.
posted by matteo at 9:15 AM on July 29, 2002


"How dare you interrupt my personal fight with Dreama with an on-topic comment!"

Hee hee. I love MeFi.
posted by norm at 10:30 AM on July 29, 2002


norm
it's a 3-day-old thread, I guess nobody is discussing the legal side of this (frivolous) lawsuit anymore. But maybe I'm mistaken, somebody will pick up your point and continue the legal discussion, I'm interested in it and look forward to more comments on that

And it's not a personal fight, dreama and oliver and I are discussing a topic -- i.e. government intervention in the fast food industry
posted by matteo at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2002


I can appreciate your Jeffersonian point of view, but if we follow your ideas we end up with a non-existing government, except for courts and a very basic postal system.

Social Darwinism is a good idea for the 1700's maybe, but in those last few centuries there's this idea growing, accepted in almost all the First World Countries, that government should act towards the public interest


irresistible force vs. immovable object. I wonder who will win? (I hope it is my side, I am picking irresistible force.)

I worry when the whole idea of government action is regarded as "Social Engineering", Reaganism way past its expiration date doesn't smell good.

Is that viewpoint really catching on? I agree with it, but cannot really gauge if the idea is growing.
posted by thirteen at 11:30 AM on July 29, 2002


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