THE FOOD POLICE
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
July 18, 2011
In many ways, President Obama and his allies in Congress believe they know better than you do what is in your own best interest, but when it comes to policing the American diet, the Obama Administration takes the cake (quite literally). In an obscure provision of the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Congress ordered federal agencies to come up with a proposal for improving children’s diets and stemming the tide of childhood obesity. In pertinent part, Congress called for an Obama Administration working group “to conduct a study and develop recommendations for standards for the marketing of foods when such marketing targets children who are 17 years old or younger or when such food represents a significant component of the diets of children.” In short, Congress with the full support of the President, ordered federal agencies to propose to Congress a regulatory means for altering the American diet.
Regulators at the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture convened an Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children. They recently proposed measures that would deny consumers the freedom to access fattening foods and would deny producers of those foods the freedom to advertise their gustatory benefits. They invite the industry to adopt the measures voluntarily before the IWG makes its formal recommendations to Congress.
Typical of this Administration, the recommendations are not that parents be given more information to make their own decisions concerning how best to regulate their children’s diets, instead the regulators favor measures that would restrict the kinds of foods that could be sold to children, the quantities of nutrients in foods that could be sold to children, and the advertising of products to children.