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The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a California attorney has filed a suit against Kraft Foods, demanding that children not be allowed to buy Oreos.

His reasoning? The filling is Oreos contains trans fat, which he says is so dangerous that children shouldn’t be allowed to eat it. He differentiates his lawsuit from the legal actions against tobacco companies, saying that everyone knows that tobacco is harmful while few consumers know about trans fat and its impact on health.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil, is in roughly 40 percent of the food found on grocery store shelves. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants manufacturers to provide information about trans fats on food labels, manufacturers are challenging the ruling.

The attorney, Stephen Joseph, told the Chronicle that he believes trans fat was in part responsible for his father's death from heart disease.

The suit, while the first of its kind in the country, is part of a growing trend toward finding legal rationales to battle the national trend toward obesity, especially in children.

In a related story, CBS News reports that there was a conference in Washington, DC, last week at which there were advocates pushing for the so-called "Twinkie Tax," which would penalize companies that sell fatty and sugary foods, and provide incentives for exercise and free distribution of fruits and vegetables.

And at least in part because there have been legal actions against fast food restaurants accusing them of being responsible for childhood obesity, 600 Southern California McDonald's restaurants have introduced a "Salads & More" low-fat menu that includes a meatless hamburger.
KC's View:
While it certainly is easy to feel compassion for attorney Joseph and the pain he feels about the loss of his father, we have to say that we think that this suit goes too far. Will the next step be to prosecute parents who actually feed Oreos to their kids? (In that case, we’ll be filing MNB from Sing Sing, and our commentary will consist of saying things like, "They've never built a prison that can hold us, copper…")

However, we believe that manufacturers do the American public an injustice by resisting the move to labeling trans fats on packaged products. Truth and accuracy is never a bad decision. And if they think that people won’t eat the products once they know what's in them, then maybe they ought to think about reformulating some of the products they manufacture…