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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 13:09 GMT
McDonalds 'ignored health advice'
by Victoria Broadbent
BBC World Service business reporter

McDonalds fish sandwich
Full of additives or healthy eating?
Fast food restaurant chain McDonalds is facing renewed legal action in the US over claims that the its food was responsible for health problems among a group of obese American children.

The original complaint was thrown out last month, but US district judge Robert Sweet left the door open for further litigation.

His ruling pointed out the possibility of a case to prove that additives in fast food meant there were risks in eating it that consumers were not aware of.

The original case was brought on behalf of a group of overweight teenagers in the Bronx district of New York.

'Misleading adverts'

The new suit alleges that products such as Chicken McNuggets were "hazardous and detrimental" to an extent beyond what was understood by the ordinary consumer.

It alleges that McDonalds promoted its Chicken McNuggets, fish and chicken sandwiches, fries and hamburgers as being healthy when researchers, and even the company's own nutritional division in France, warned otherwise.

Furthermore, it says that researchers have warned that some of these foods should not be consumed more than once a week or consumers could suffer problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

McDonalds has dismissed the case as "senseless" and "absurd".

The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) has also condemned the new lawsuit as "ridiculous", saying it attacked "common and everyday foods and ingredients" approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the industry's safety regulator.

But the decision to renew the lawsuit is an uncomfortable development for the food industry, which fears it could become the next focus for the fee-hungry legal profession.



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