Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
make real change.226 The Director of Food would replace the USDA in
making recommended daily dietary guidance.227
In order to change the food supply it may also be necessary to rethink
what it means to be a good corporate citizen. Current lobbying efforts on
the part of big food appear to have no regard for public health.228
Fundamentals of corporate law should shift, incorporating regulations to
encourage corporate accountability to more than just shareholders.229
Corporate laws that emphasize profit maximization to the exclusion of all
else should be re-evaluated. If other considerations were taken into
account, perhaps lobbying would be brought under control.
At first glance, most would say that sugar is not the new tobacco. After
all, we do not hear about more than 400,000 people dying annually from
sugar consumption, a statistic commonly associated with smoking.
However, the evidence suggests that sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes,
heart disease, and some cancers. Therefore, sugar adversely impacts as
many, or more, people than tobacco use. Accordingly, many of the legal
restrictions applicable to tobacco products – warning labels, advertising
restrictions and excise taxes – should also apply to processed foods with
large quantities of added sugar. In addition, sugar is symptomatic of a
larger food supply problem. To address the broader problem, food
subsidies must be re-evaluated and changed. An independent, national
Director of Food could alleviate some systemic problems. These changes
would help create a food supply that improves public health, which is the
appropriate role of a variety of governmental agencies at the federal, state
and local levels.
226. While it may be impossible to ensure complete independence, there are other
models, like the Congressional Budget Office, that could provide guidance. See Overview,
CONG. BUDGET OFFICE, http://www.cbo.gov/about/overview (last visited Jan. 13, 2013)
(“Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office has produced independent,
nonpartisan, timely analysis of economic and budgetary issues. . . . All CBO employees are
appointed solely on the basis of professional competence, without regard to political
affiliation.”). The Surgeon General is also charged with advancing the public health and
could be a key participant in making necessary changes. Duties, SURGEONGENERAL.GOV,
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/about/duties/index.html (last visited Jan. 13, 2013).
227. The USDA has arguably become an honorary member of the food industry rather
than a regulator of it. Steve Johnson, The Politics of Meat, PUB. BROAD. SYS.,
228. See Patel, supra note 200.