Last week Californians Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed suit for a court order requiring McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Frito Lay and others to warn consumers that french fries and potato chips contain a chemical that may cause 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."The legal basis for Lockyer's suit is a 1986 ballot initiative approved by California voters known as Proposition 65 requiring the Governor to publish, at least annually, a list of cancer-causing chemicals and requires the citizens of California to be warned of the dangers.
But consumers should have the information needed to make informed decisions about their food, he said.
There are hundreds of chemicals on the list including acrylamide, a natural byproduct that forms when certain carbohydrate-rich foods are fried, baked, or roasted at high temperatures. Acrylamide can cause cancer in laboratory animals at high doses, although it is not clear whether it causes cancer at the much lower levels in food. Acrylamide is found in potato chips and french fries.
There are now so many warning labels bombarding the people of California that none of them can be taken seriously, if noticed at all. Virtually any place of business that you enter, from restaurants to retail stores to auto repair shops, all must display various health warnings. The warning signs in parking garages, hardware stores and the crystal department at Macy's all read:
Warning. This area contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
So, instead of posting warning labels on hundreds of products and thousands of businesses throughout California, wouldn't it just be easier to post this message at the borders:
Warning: The State of California contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Enter at your own risk.