Anti-consumer bill would shield from industry from liability

Legislation that would shield restaurants and food companies from health- or safety-related civil lawsuits would deprive citizens of an important recourse and make those industries even less accountable, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The bill, sponsored by Representative Ric Keller (R-FL), is the subject of a hearing today in the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law.

“Frivolous lawsuits deserve to be thrown out of court, and frivolous legislation should be thrown out of Congress—and the Keller bill is nothing but frivolous,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Representative Keller simply wants to preemptively take an entire industry off the hook, and make restaurants and food companies a special, protected class—immune from the scrutiny of judges or juries.”

The legislation, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, would bar any civil lawsuit unless the company at issue is not in compliance with a specific law or regulation. Food-safety and nutrition experts point out that no regulatory agency could possibly foresee every instance of injurious behavior.

“It’s ironic to see so-called conservatives so eager to wield the power of big government. But it’s entirely predictable for them to do so to protect big business,” said Jacobson, who noted that Representative Keller’s district is home to Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster. “This bill has nothing to do with encouraging personal responsibility, and everything to do with encouraging corporate irresponsibility.”