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MNB reported last Friday on a new lawsuit filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine asking the Washington, DC, Superior Court to require that every milk carton sold in the city carry a label warning lactose intolerant people not to drink from it. The suit charges that Giant, Safeway and other milk retailers have failed to warn lactose-intolerant consumers of the risks of drinking milk and that these retailers fail to address the problem of lactose intolerance, particularly among people of African, Asian and Hispanic descent.

We commented that we were having trouble with the logic of this lawsuit:

First of all, if you know you’re lactose intolerant, you know not to drink milk. If you don’t know you’re lactose intolerant, what good will the labels do?

Here’s the thing. Virtually everything is dangerous to somebody. At some point, labelmania gets out of control.

This may be that point.

Lots of reaction this story and commentary…

MNB user Gillian Lippert wrote:

This is where the hot coffee lawsuit gets us – beware: the hot beverage you are drinking is hot, beware: the dairy product you are consuming contains dairy, beware: the peanut butter you are buying may be dangerous to people allergic to nuts. Come on! It’s one thing to ask manufacturers to label food with information that cannot be inferred (e.g., transfats, fiber, protein, etc.) – but to ask that they label it with the obvious, and really, who is to say what is obvious to some and not to others? Should bananas and avocadoes be labeled as possibly dangerous to people with latex allergies? Should all food be labeled as dangerous to people who are obese? Enough already. Let’s try to regain some measure of self-reliance, self-governance, and responsibility in this country – and by that I do NOT mean instigating litigation. We cannot continue to blame all of our woes on big bad business.

MNB user Pat Weidman wrote:

Thank you for pointing out the absolute ridiculous nature of this lawsuit! I, too, was having great difficulty with the logic of this lawsuit. DITTO to every point you made - especially about the labelmania!

When will we silly human beings grow up and start being responsible enough to take care of ourselves - and, stop blaming others for our own laziness! It's one thing to be our brothers' keeper to those who really need it - but, this is taking it way too far!

MNB user Donna Sires wrote:

I am lactose intolerant, and I agree with you. I know what to stay away from..

If the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wants to go after something, they should go after the pharmaceutical industry. Many drugs use lactose as an inert carrier, and they don't have to be labeled as containing lactose. Why go to all the trouble of having to label food with allergens and not have to put these same warnings on drugs? Pharmacists should take it upon themselves to start doing this until the FDA catches up. My pharmacist knows me now and labels my medicine. I went through a lot of agony though until I figured out it was my medicines causing so much discomfort.

Another MNB user wrote:

If this lawsuit gets off the ground and into a courtroom to hear "arguments" I will mark that day on my calendar as the official "point of no return date" that our civilized United States of America leapt to it's own "common sense death". The McDonalds "hot coffee" case was merely a step during the walk toward the edge of the cliff.

Does this mean that soft drink manufacturers would need to label their product with a warning: Warning! Consumption of this beverage at a rapid pace and in moderate to large quantities could lead to upset stomach, gas, and loud burping!

Yet another MNB user chimed in:

I think the lawsuit is an insult to people of color everywhere! People of any color are smart enough to know what you so simply stated.

Another member of the MNB community wrote:

I believe most of the Mediterranean population also has this problem. Some of my family members are lactose intolerant ...and they are quite aware when their body does not digest the lactose. Therefore they tend to shy away from diary products unless they really want the item (ice cream) and feel it is worth the result or remember to take their pills that assist in lactose digestion.

The lawsuit does not agree with me. It's getting my stomach churning! I don't see a race issue here. Labels on milk cartons stating that if you react to this product you are probably lactose intolerant are costly and do not solve any problem.

If anything --the lactose intolerant population should be provided with information regarding the need for dairy products and how lactose reduced products or digestive pills can be of assistance. Or what to ingest instead of dairy.

And by the has been my observation that in some cases this intolerance surfaces for a few years and is a definite problem ...goes away for no apparent reason ...and sometimes comes back.

Another MNB user wrote:

KC is absolutely right. It is sad to say that some people are just ignorant as well. If people are not aware if they are Lactose Intolerent, of course the labels will not help. Those who are Lactose Intolerant, know not to consumer dairy. This is like if people ate peanuts and were allergic to nuts. It's common knowledge not to eat a bag of peanuts when you know you'll swell up or see side effects. Sometimes people are just plain stupid.

MNB user Steve Sullivan wrote:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine? Is this like the Ministry of Silly Walks? It makes about as much sense! I can just picture the Ministry, oops sorry, the Committee sitting around the conference table working on this one. HMMMM. If I know I'm allergic to something, I need a label on that item telling me not to use it if I'm allergic to it.

Warning labels have become about as useful as the boy who cried wolf. There are so many warnings now, that the critical ones get ignored with the ones like this. Hey, docs! Why not actually come up with something RESPONSIBLE? How about coming up with solutions to the overuse of prescription drugs? Or maybe the pushing of drugs to market in a way that causes them to be recalled after seriously injuring or killing people? Or decrying the way physicians change a patients medication (or at least the brand thereof) based not on scholarly studies but on which drug company salesman was in that week.

Kevin, are you sure the Pythons AREN'T behind this?

One can imagine John Cleese chairing the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…

Finally, we noted on Friday that we’ve been asked by a number of people lately why we use “we” instead of “I” in our commentaries (except in Friday’s OffBeat column).

We said we were trying not to be too egocentric, but said we would be willing to change if people found “we” too clumsy or distracting.

Well, we got well over 100 emails on Friday…and almost everybody wants us to stick with “we.” So we will.

Many of the responses made us laugh…but as a former altar boy, we particularly enjoyed this one from an MNB user:

As we have said before, the Papal (or Imperial) Plural is preferred for so many reasons:

"Roma locutia est, Cause finite est" (Rome has spoken, the matter is

And so it has. And is.

For now.
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