Monday, August 29, 2005

Warning Labels for French Fries

Out here in California, the foolishness of the state government never ceases to amaze. The latest item: Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed a lawsuit to require that makers of french fries and potato chips put a warning label on their products because they could cause cancer (Yahoo News story). FDA studies have shown that a chemical that appears in starchy foods cooked to high temperatures (e.g. frying) causes cancer in mice subjected to high doses.

California law requires warning labels for anything that is deemed carcinogenic. The labels are ubiquitous. For example, every gas station has such a warning at the pump. Now certainly the motivation behind these warnings is a good one. The folks in Sacramento want to protect citizens from harmful chemicals. But common sense should temper this desire of legislators and regulators. When warning labels are everywhere does anyone truly pay them any mind? Is there anyone in California who worries about whether to fill up his car because there might be carcinogenic chemicals at a gas station? How many people will choose not to eat fries at McDonalds because of such a warning? Warnings should be reserved for things that actually pose a significant, immediate threat.

When the government tries too hard to protect us the results end up in the range of ridiculousness.

Update: Debra Saunders (via RealClearPolitics) writes along the same lines.

1 comment:

Kevin Kannenberg said...

Haven't you heard the Joe Jackson song "Everything causes cancer"? I say that we require all companies (government, private entities, etc.) to put a warning label on EVERYTHING. After all, depending on the day of the week, some things will cause cancer or prevent it.

Amusing read here: Everything Causes Cancer, Say Scientists