FOOD DISPARAGEMENT LAWS
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 10:25:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Steve Grenard <email@example.com>
Apparently some 13 states have passed laws enabling food providers to sue
anyone (organizations and individuals) for making disparaging remarks about
the health or safety of their food products! Where, I wonder, does this
leave public health authorities or other authoritative comment as well as
the press in issuing food-related health alerts or writing about them.
--- Steve Grenard
[Steve has passed on the following communications. MHJ}
Date: Sun, 4 May 1997 06:40:11 -0700 via: Audubon discussion list <AUDUBON-CHAT@LIST.AUDUBON.ORG> From: Marianne Lavelle <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: food disparagement law sponsors?
In the most recent issue of The National Law Journal, I wrote a story on food disparagement laws that have been passed in 13 states and are being considered in several more. My story currently is at:
In my continuing reporting on this issue, I am seeking the names of the principle sponsors of these measures in each of the state legislatures. The state government sites on the net are of virtually (pardon the pun) no use because they only have the most recent legislative sessions on line. Is there anyone out there who has been following the issue who has the names of the sponsors in the following states? (If the law has been passed, the year of its enactment is in parentheses) Alabama (96), Arizona (95), California, Colorado (?), Florida (95), Georgia (94), Idaho (92), Louisiana (91), Maryland, Mississippi (?), Nebraska, North Dakota (97), Ohio (96), Oklahoma (95), South Carolina, South Dakota (94), Texas (95), Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Thank you all for any help you can give. You can e-mail me direct.
--- Marianne Lavelle, staff writer The National Law Journal email@example.com
Date: Mon, 05 May 1997 07:49:30 -0700 From: Marianne Lavelle <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Steve Grenard <email@example.com>
>Steve Grenard wrote: whether you feel these laws would open the way for conservation organizations and individuals to be sued for making disparahging remarks about the use of wildlife such as turtles and rattlesnakes (e.g.) as food? > Also what about public health authorities? Will these laws silence health departments in issuing warnings about tainted gfood? If so, I believe they jeopardize the health of people living in states where they've passed. > >Steve,
I am not a lawyer, but it seems quite clear that regarding the latter portion of your question -- whether a state authority could be sued for issuing a health warning -- the answer is yes. Litigation then would focus on whether the health authority had enough science to back up its claim. It is important to note that even without food disparagement laws, health authorities are sometimes the subject of lawsuits by the regulated community, although they are protected in some part by laws that preserve the concept of sovereign immunity.
As to the first part of your question, most of the laws give a cause of action to food "producers," which would include farmers and ranchers, usually. I suppose those who hunt, trap and distribute exotic wildlife for sale as food also would have a cause of action, but considering the inherent public relations problem they would face, I'm not so sure as a practical matter they would benefit as much from drawing attention to what they do by trotting it out in court.
Thanks for your interest,
Marianne Lavelle The National Law Journal
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 07:37:14 -0700 Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: Audubon discussion list <AUDUBON-CHAT@LIST.AUDUBON.ORG> From: Marianne Lavelle <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Food Disparagement Laws To: AUDUBON-CHAT@LIST.AUDUBON.ORG
Elizabeth Winter wrote: >what on earth it is that you're talking about? "Food Disparagement Laws" sounds like something that would be found in a Roseanne Rosannadanna skit from the early days of Saturday Night Live? >
True enough! The food disparagement laws make it possible to sue someone who makes a public statement questioning the safety of a food if that statement is not based on what the laws define in various ways as sound science. Statements about pesticides, other environmental health and safety issues are of particular concern. Even if you are not a subscriber, you can read the National Law Journal story on the web, which spells out both the economic conerns of the food industry and the First Amendment concerns of environmentalists. My previous message, however, gave an incorrect URL. Here is (are) the correct one(s):
http://www.ljx.com/news/mad.htm or http://www.ljextra.com/news/mad.htm
Marianne Lavelle, staff writer The National Law Journal .................................................mhj
-- Send all items for posting to: firstname.lastname@example.org (NOT to an individual moderator). Send commands to subscribe/unsubscribe, get archives, help, etc. to: email@example.com. For assistance from a human being, send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org