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Tell Us Where YOU Stand on the Cheeseburger Bill!

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that protects fast-food chains from being sued by people who claim the food made them fat. If the bill, the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" - better known in Congress as the "cheeseburger bill" -- is made into law, obesity-related lawsuits against both restaurants and food manufacturers would be banned. (Legal action could still be taken if contaminated food makes a person sick.)

Cheeseburger Bill

If the cheeseburger bill is passed, fast-food companies won't be held accountable for their customers' obesity.

To date, a handful of lawsuits have been filed that blame restaurant food and advertising for obesity. Only one such case -- filed in 2002 and alleging that McDonald's misleading advertising caused teens in New York to eat too much of the food and become obese -- remains open.

Yes, We Need The Cheeseburger Bill ...

The bill passed 306 to 120 in the House - -the second time they've passed the bill. The same bill was passed back in March 2004 but not acted upon in the Senate. About 20 states have already passed similar legislation.

Bill proponents say it's a person's own responsibility to choose what they do and do not eat, and such matters don't belong in court.

"As one judge put it, if a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonald's products is unhealthy and could result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"We should not encourage lawsuits that blame others for our own choices and could bankrupt an entire industry," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas noted.

Cheeseburger Bill

It's a personal choice to eat fast food, say supporters of the cheeseburger bill.

The Whitehouse also backs the bill and said in a statement, "Food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers and sellers should not be held liable for injury because a person's consumption of legal, unadulterated food is associated with the person's weight gain or obesity."

No, The Cheeseburger Bill is Unnecessary

Those who are against the bill say fast-food companies should be held accountable for selling harmful products, and passing the bill would unfairly give restaurants and food manufacturers special rights.

"Congress has allowed the need of big corporations before the need of our children," said Rep. Bob Filner, D-California.

Further, they say courts are functioning fine without the bill and dismissing cases that sound frivolous. Passing the bill could give food manufacturers free reign to produce any type of product.

Bill opponents point out that obesity is a major problem facing the nation, with close to two-thirds of U.S. adults and 15 percent of children now overweight. Some 30 percent of adults are considered obese.

"Congress is headed in the wrong direction with this bill, which removes any and all incentives for the food industry to improve the healthiness of their products," says Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.

Meanwhile, McDonald's isn't waiting for the bill to become law before they take some responsibility of their own. The fast-food giant announced that beginning in 2006 they will be including nutrition facts information on most of their fast-food packages.

Cheeseburger Bill

Please Let Us Know What YOU Think!

Select answers will be published in the forthcoming issue of the e-newsletter!*

*NOTE: Your answer, or an excerpt thereof, may be published in a forthcoming issue of the e-newsletter and on the website. By submitting your answer you authorize this. Please include your name and your city state (or country) location to be included in the publication of select answers!

Recommended Reading

What You Need to Know About ... The Americans with Disabilities Act and How it can Impact You

Instead of Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, or Tostitos ... Consider Edamame


CNN October 20, 2005

CBS News October 19, 2005

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