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Chamber Supports Legislation to Protect Food Industry

Monday, March 8, 2004 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today announced support for legislation that would shield the nation's food industry from frivolous obesity lawsuits, asserting that diet choices are a matter of personal responsibility, not an excuse for clogging up already crowded court dockets.

"In growing numbers, many Americans are shifting the blame for their poor nutritional decisions by mounting speculative litigation against food manufacturers and distributors," said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president for government affairs. "This legislation offers a reasonable solution to this alarming trend by keeping the food industry in check without allowing it to be the sole scapegoat for America's escalating obesity problem."

In a letter to the House of Representatives, the Chamber asked lawmakers to vote in favor of the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" (H.R. 339) and to oppose any weakening amendments.

The bill would reinforce the long-standing principles of personal responsibility and individual choice by protecting the public from the type of lawyer-driven litigation that has devastated other American industries. The legislation would still allow for lawsuits against food purveyors if they fail to comply with applicable prohibitions on adulterated foods.

While obesity and dieting choices have become a big issue in this country recently, the solution should not be to launch more lawsuits. The U.S. court system was not designed to handle the numerous and complex policy concerns surrounding obesity issues. Those debates are better suited for the political branches of government, not courts of law, according to the Chamber.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

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