On Tuesday morning, three dozen legal scholars weighed in on the food industry's fight against proposed nutrition standards
I just received a message from Samantha Graff, the director of legal research at Public Health Law & Policy, an advocacy group in Oakland, California.
Tuesday morning, she writes, 36 legal scholars -- including several experts on the First Amendment -- weighed in on the food industry's fight against proposed nutrition standards for foods and beverages marketed directly to children. This is the very issue I wrote about in this past weekend's San Francisco Chronicle column and have discussed in previous posts.
In a letter sent yesterday to federal agencies, the legal scholars point out that because food and beverage companies are free to ignore the nutrition recommendations, the draft principles "do not restrain or compel anyone's speech. They are not, in fact, government regulations at all."
A key industry strategy has been to recruit lawyers to write white papers charging that the proposed nutrition standards violate First Amendment rights to free speech.
Recall that Congress asked the FTC to join with the FDA, CDC, and USDA to recommend standards for food products marketed to kids. These agencies, collectively known as the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG), issued Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts. This report outlines proposed voluntary standards that have been open for public comment.