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Sunday, February 23, 2003

McDonalds Health Problems

Problems only seem to be mounting up for McDonalds these days. On the one hand they've started to lose money and are looking for a change of image. On the other a more 'health aware' society means even more headaches. I've a feeling this one is going to run and run. Regardless of the legal basis for the claims that their products are 'hazardous and detrimental' it is clear that obesity and related problems like diabetes and coronary heart disease are more than likely about to be come one of the topics of the decade. Thinking about this makes me realise that the topic is a lot bigger than McDonalds and obesity and takes me back to a post I made earlier last week - about Kurzweils talk at the Future of Life Conference - and about what he calls the relation between purpose and biology. His points is that our dietary system and needs have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years in conditions vastly different to those which we experience today. In the last two hundred years our societies have made a huge leap forward, and in the last ten another one. It's an old adage that says that what we are is what we eat (both mentally and physically), so clearly we need to take a long hard look at what we are doing here, and use our newly discovered creative intelligence to try and figure out a better way to combine sensory pleasure with biological reality.

Fast food restaurant chain McDonalds is facing renewed legal action in the US over claims that the its food was responsible for health problems among a group of obese American children. The original complaint was thrown out last month, but US district judge Robert Sweet left the door open for further litigation. His ruling pointed out the possibility of a case to prove that additives in fast food meant there were risks in eating it that consumers were not aware of. The original case was brought on behalf of a group of overweight teenagers in the Bronx district of New York.

The new suit alleges that products such as Chicken McNuggets were "hazardous and detrimental" to an extent beyond what was understood by the ordinary consumer. It alleges that McDonalds promoted its Chicken McNuggets, fish and chicken sandwiches, fries and hamburgers as being healthy when researchers, and even the company's own nutritional division in France, warned otherwise. Furthermore, it says that researchers have warned that some of these foods should not be consumed more than once a week or consumers could suffer problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. McDonalds has dismissed the case as "senseless" and "absurd". The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) has also condemned the new lawsuit as "ridiculous", saying it attacked "common and everyday foods and ingredients" approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the industry's safety regulator. But the decision to renew the lawsuit is an uncomfortable development for the food industry, which fears it could become the next focus for the fee-hungry legal profession.
Source: BBC News

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