California Attorney General Wants Warning Label on Fries
LOS ANGELES (Aug. 26) - Potato chips and french fries could soon come with a warning label if the state's top attorney prevails in a lawsuit filed Friday against nine fast food chains and snack-food makers.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer asked for a court order requiring McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Frito Lay and other companies to warn consumers that their fries and chips may contain acrylamide, a chemical the state says causes cancer.
"In taking this action, I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips or french fries," Lockyer said. "I know from personal experience that, while these snacks may not be a necessary part of a healthy diet, they sure taste good."
But consumers should have the information needed to make informed decisions about their food, he said.
Frito-Lay spokeswoman Lynn Markley said there was no scientific evidence that acrylamide caused cancer. She said it was counterproductive for the state to sue the companies when other California regulators are currently setting standards for the chemical under Proposition 65, which requires companies to notify the public about potentially dangerous toxins in food.
"We have been looking to the state regulators for direction on how to satisfy Proposition 65 due to the unexpected discovery of acrylamide in food products," she said.
Acrylamide, a byproduct of chemicals and high heat, has been found at low levels in several foods. The lawsuit focuses on french fries and chips because they have more acrylamide than other foods, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The state agency setting standards for the chemical, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, is considering two potential approaches, spokesman Allan Hirsch said.
The agency might set regulations providing more specifics about when warnings would be required. Or it might exempt businesses from placing warning labels on their foods if they agree to reduce the presence of the chemical to the lowest feasible level, he said.
Spokespersons for several defendants based in the Midwest or East did not return calls for comment Friday. The lawsuit was filed after business hours in their time zones.
Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for Lockyer, said that if the lawsuit was successful, the office would want to sit down with the defendants to decide how large the warning labels would be and where they would appear on packaging.
"We don't want the warning to be alarming or excessively large," she said. "We want it to be simple and effective and (we'll) be flexible about how it will work with each product."
08-27-05 12:30 EDT
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
This guy has too much free time on his hands...