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May 3, 2002

USA: Consumer freedom advocates fight against the ‘fat tax’

A coalition claiming to have the support of more than 30,000 restaurant and bar owners has formed to defend the rights of US consumers to eat fattening foods. As momentum grows for the imposition of so-called ‘fat taxes’ on unhealthy foods, so an opposition movement is taking shape. The Center for Consumer Freedom has adopted the motto ‘Protecting Personal Responsibility and Protecting Consumer Choice’ and launched a radio advertising campaign to whip up protest against the taxes. It is hostile to what is sees as government meddling in the freedom of consumers to choose what to eat.

A coalition claiming to have the support of more than 30,000 restaurant and bar owners has formed to defend the rights of US consumers to eat fattening foods.

As momentum grows for the imposition of so-called ‘fat taxes’ on unhealthy foods, so an opposition movement is taking shape. The Center for Consumer Freedom has adopted the motto ‘Protecting Personal Responsibility and Protecting Consumer Choice’ and launched a radio advertising campaign to whip up protest against the taxes. It is hostile to what is sees as government meddling in the freedom of consumers to choose what to eat.

“We are a coalition of restaurant and tavern operators allied together to fight the growing movement of food cops and public-health zealots, people who want to tell you what to eat and drink and basically how to live your life,” Mike Burita, the centre’s communications director is quoted as saying.

The activities of the group have been downplayed its principal targets, which include the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“It’s basically sophomoric, know-nothing propaganda that seems to be aimed at discouraging people from paying attention to the impact of diet on health,” said Michael Jacobson, the CSPI’s executive director. “They are trying to deny a huge body of scientific research that associates the high caloric, fat and salt content of restaurant foods with obesity, heart disease and other health problems.”

CSPI approves of federal taxes on fatty foods, with the justification that, if the government taxes alcohol and tobacco, why not junk food, which can have similarly adverse health consequences.

just-food.com will shortly be publishing an in-depth feature on this issue. Watch this space!

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