In response to the markup and approval of the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” (H.R. 554) by the House Judiciary Committee, Hunt Shipman, executive vice president of government affairs and communications for the Food Products Association (FPA), made the following comments:

“FPA applauds the Judiciary Committee for approving this legislation to protect the food industry from liability claims that food products are responsible for causing weight gain or obesity in consumers. Moreover, language amending the original bill, which was approved during the Judiciary Committee’s markup, will strengthen the legislation.

“This bill is a needed response to the threat of obesity-related lawsuits against the food industry. Increasingly, lawsuits have been threatened by trial lawyers seeking to assign blame for obesity to those who produce, market or sell foods in this country. Such action will not help consumers, and would harm the industry that produces the world’s most abundant, safest and most affordable food supply. Clearly, concerned lawmakers do not want to see this issue descend into the courtroom quagmire.

“Most Americans appear to agree that obesity lawsuits are ridiculous. Polling by the Gallup Organization has shown that the vast majority of Americans oppose holding the fast-food industry legally responsible for diet-related problems of people who eat fast-food on a regular basis. Another poll by AC Nielsen found that only 1 percent of consumers blamed food manufacturers for the rise in childhood obesity. The public knows that obesity is national health issue in this country but they don’t think that any one group or industry is to blame.

“We applaud Representative Ric Keller (R-Florida), who introduced this bill, as well as Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has introduced similar legislation in the Senate, for helping to focus the debate where it belongs: on positive actions that can help consumers, not needless litigation. FPA supports prompt action by both the House and the Senate to pass this important legislation.”

The Food Products Association (FPA) is the largest trade association serving the food and beverage industry in the United States and worldwide.