US passes 'Cheeseburger' bill protecting fast food from lawsuits

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the so-called "cheeseburger bill" that would ban people from suing fast food restaurants for making people fat.

The "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act" passed on a bipartisan 300 to 120 vote. The House approved a similar bill last year but it died in the Senate and no Senate action is scheduled on companion legislation.

Leading business groups and the White House back the bill. The White House in a statement said, "Food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers and sellers should not be held liable for injury because a person's consumption of legal, unadulterated food is associated with the person's weight gain or obesity," reports Reuters.

Specifically, the bill would stop any "civil liability actions brought or continued against food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers, sellers, and trade associations for claims of injury relating to a person's weight gain, obesity, or any health condition associated with weight gain or obesity."

However, it would still allow such suits when a food manufacturer or seller is alleged to have "knowingly and willingly" broken a contract or violated a law in the making or marketing of a food product.

"While cracking down on frivolous lawsuits, the bill will preserve protections against mislabeled or tainted foods," said Keller.

The House passed a similar bill last year but it was never taken up in the Senate. However, a "cheeseburger bill" was jointly introduced a Democratic senator and a Republican senator on Wednesday.

"Just because somebody has an expanding waist line or a health problem doesn't mean they should be allowed to sue a fast food restaurant," said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who is co-sponsoring the legislation with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The "cheeseburger bill" is opposed by some public health advocacy groups.

"Congress should not be seeking to absolve the food industry of its responsibility - especially when it comes to the health of our children," said Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. "Personal responsibility is only one factor, as food choices are not made in a vacuum. Industry actions are also a factor."

But the House passage was hailed by business groups, informs Atlanta Journal Constitution.


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