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The Trans Fat's In The Fire

by Stephen Lautens


July 11, 2003

A very wise judge once said that there is no legal need to warn people about the obvious - things like fire is hot or knives are sharp. This is apparently not true anymore. Either that or people have become a lot dumber since the judge made his assumption.

It seems like we can’t be counted on to know anything anymore. Like that cigarettes will kill you. People have known that cigarettes will kill you for generations. If cigarettes were invented next week, they are so bad for you there is no way any government would permit them to be sold to anyone. Still, there are people who pop up every year who claim they didn’t know cigarettes were bad for them and now deserve a whack of cash because their lives and bodies are shot after smoking a pack or six a day for the last forty years.

There’s also the 300 pound man in the US who recently sued McDonald’s because he claims he didn’t know that eating a lot of their food would make him fat. Now fast food is fine for an occasional treat, but anyone with an IQ above room temperature (Celsius) has to know that eating it day in and day out is eventually going to supersize you.

This past May a lawyer named Stephen Joseph sued Kraft Foods, asking the California courts to ban them from selling any more of their Oreo cookies. This is because Oreos use something called "trans fats". Using trans fats let food manufacturers say their products are cholesterol-free, but once in the body they actually trigger the buildup of bad cholesterol and destroy good cholesterol. Because of the lawsuit the Oreo people have agreed to reduce the trans fat in their cookies.

My question is this - how many Oreos were Mr. Joseph’s clients eating that it was a problem? I like cookies as much as the next guy, but if you are sitting down to a bag of them, you’ve got to know it can’t be good for you, no matter what’s in them.

It turns out that unhealthy trans fats are used in a lot of things, like cookies, frozen waffles, doughnuts, pancake mix, fish sticks, potato chips, croissants and French fries. Once again, even if advertised as "cholesterol-free", eating a lot of these foods wouldn’t be considered a balanced diet, unless of course you work for the circus.

Here are some other lawsuits we’re likely to see in the near future:

Johnston v. Premium Paint Thinner Corp: In his lawsuit Mr. Johnston claims that the label on the can saying it was voted the "best paint thinner" is misleading, since he thought "best" referred to taste and used it to whip up a batch of Daiquiris.

Smith v. Atlas Gym Equipment: Smith is claiming a million dollars for breaking his foot when he dropped an Atlas barbell on it. Although the barbell is clearly marked as being 50 kilos, he claims there should be a notice printed on the side stating that 50 kilos "really weighs a lot".

Barnicki v. Uptown Brewing Company: Mr. Barnicki is suing the brewer for a hundred grand for pain and suffering and another hundred grand for punitive damages for drinking too much beer at a wedding reception. He claims that there should be a big warning on every beer can telling drinkers they shouldn’t consume a whole six pack before standing in a receiving line for an hour because it will make them need to go to the bathroom - really bad.

You see, with a good lawyer, you may never have to think for yourself ever again.

© Stephen Lautens 2003

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