Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How Far Will the Food Police Go?

Yesterday it was all over the local news that Kentucky Fried Chicken food has a lot of fat in it--way more than what's good for you, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Somebody paid good money (probably my money and your money) to conduct a study to figure this out. I could have told them that just based on the number of napkins one must use when consuming a 3-Piece Extra Crispy Value Meal with Biscuit, Potatoes and Gravy.

So, yeah. Fast food has a lot of fat in it. (It has a lot of salt too, but they didn't study that. They'll probably wait and waste my money and your money on that another time.) It has more fat than what's good for you.

But nobody is forcing that fast food down your throat. People who eat fast food make the choice to eat fast food. They could get a salad but they don't. They could cook at home but they don't. (And yes, sometimes I eat fast food. And sometimes I get fast food for my family. I don't think that occasional fast-food consumption is going to kill us.)

This all makes me wonder, though--how far is the government going to take this? There are lawsuits pending against companies for putting too much fat in their foods. And I agree with Yum! Brands (parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken) that such lawsuits are frivolous. They make the food. They sell the food. They do not put a gun to their customers' heads and make them eat the food. Unless they blatantly lie in their advertising, saying that food with more fat in a single meal than an adult needs in a week is Good For You, or unless their kitchens are filthy and therefore unsafe, then they can prepare their food in whatever manner they want. It's their ingredients, their recipe, their product.

What I fear is that with the thinking that one can sue over, and legislate, menus in restaurants over the amount of a certain ingredient that is put in a food that people CHOOSE TO BUY AND EAT, will come decisions by the health-care industry that they will deny care to people who CHOOSE to do things that are bad for them. Patients will be screened before treatment. Heavy drinker? Smoker? Eater-of-stuff-that's-bad-for-you? Sorry. It was wrong, you knew it was wrong, but you did it anyway. Can't help you out. Pregnant, and in need of prenatal care? Too should have used birth control. You're on your own. Injured in a motorcycle accident? Can't operate on you; you chose not to wear a helmet. You're too stupid to deserve our care.

Is that where we're going with this? Will parents of Downs Syndrome babies be denied proper care for those children, because they didn't choose to abort?

A future in which decisions for a person's health care are directly related to that person's choices (good, bad or otherwise) does not seem that far away to me. It does, however, seem very scary.

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