Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
metabolized like alcohol. After all, alcohol (ethanol) is fermented sugar;
they come from the same plant, and they are taken care of by the liver in
the same way: 73
Despite the forgoing discussion, research on the health risks associated
with sugar consumption remains inconclusive. 74 It will take several years to
conduct double blind studies to prove Dr. Lustig’s theories. Just as tobacco
was thought to be dangerous for our health before it was conclusively
proven, 75 sugar is now thought to be more dangerous than scientific data
can prove. 76 For example, the Institute of Medicine reported that there is
still no consensus on how much sugar can be consumed as part of a healthy
diet. 77 The Sugar Association exploits this lack of certainty, suggesting that
sugar is a safe part of a nutritious diet. 78 This is one reason, among others,
why sugar remains a pervasive part of our food supply. In the case of
sugar, it may be useful to apply the precautionary principle from the field of
environmental law and take precautions based on the knowledge we have. 79
II. WHY ADDED SUGAR IS PERVASIVE THROUGHOUT THE FOOD SUPPLY
A. Follow the money
The old adage “follow the money” 80 applies to the addition of sugar to a
large majority of our food supply, just as it applies to so many other things.
Even before Citizens United, 81 bank bailouts, the retention of private for-
73. Laura Schmidt, Opinion: why we should regulate sugar like alcohol, CNN.COM
(Feb. 1, 2012),
(“Many of the health hazards of drinking too much alcohol, such as high blood pressure and
fatty liver, are the same as those for eating too much sugar. When you think about it, this
actually makes a lot of sense. Alcohol, after all, is simply the distillation of sugar. Where
does vodka come from? Sugar.”); see also Lustig et al., supra note 8.
74. Taubes, supra note 1.
75. See infra Section III (describing the evolution in Congressionally required cigarette
warnings based on evolving knowledge.)
76. Taubes, supra note 1.
77. Taubes, supra note 1 (noting that the FDA has not explored the health issues
associated with sugar since 1986).
78. What does the Science Say?, THE SUGAR ASS’N, http://www.sugar.org/sugar-and-your-diet/ what-does-the-science-say.html (last visited Jan. 8, 2013).
79. Michelle S. Turker, Banning Bisphenol A in the United States and Canada:
Epigenetic Science, the Precautionary Principle, and a Missed Opportunity to Protect the
Fetus, 8 J. HEALTH & BIOMED. L. 173, 182-83 (2012.) The precautionary principle is often
used in the environmental context. It “advocates for measures to be taken before harm is
proven to result from a certain activity, or more simply stated, it’s better to be safe than
80. See ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (Warner Bros. Pictures 1976).