Food companies face lawsuits

May 20, 2003 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends

Food companies face lawsuits

If you can't persuade the food industry nicely to abandon unhealthful ingredients, then sue them.

On May 1, Stephen L. Joseph, a San Francisco lawyer, filed a suit in Marin County Superior Court against Kraft Foods, the maker of Oreos, seeking to ban the cookies in California because they contain trans fats, which are found in hydrogenated oils. That oil is found in 40 percent of prepared foods, including most cookies, crackers and microwave popcorn.

Nabisco, a subsidiary of Kraft, uses hydrogenated oil in the preparation of both the chocolate slabs that make up the outside of an Oreo, and the cookie's white creamy filling.

This is not the first time that an attempt has been made through the courts to change food composition. In January, a federal judge in Manhattan dismissed a class-action lawsuit that sought to hold the McDonald's Corporation liable for obesity, diabetes and other health problems in teenagers. The suit has been amended and refiled. McDonald's, which promised in September 2002 to reduce the level of trans fats and saturated fats in the oil it uses for frying, has delayed implementing the change.

Meanwhile, Frito-Lay has taken unhealthful fats out of its snacks like Doritos.

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