New Grains CEO Sues Utah Senator Over Inaction on Gluten-Free Labeling
Gryphon Myers recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, research emphasis in art, society and technology. He is a lifelong vegetarian, an organic, local and GMO-free food enthusiast and a high fructose corn syrup abstainer. He currently lives in Northern California. He also writes about and designs video games at Homunkulus.View all articles by Gryphon Myers
Celiac.com 06/05/2012 - Even though public awareness of celiac disease is growing thanks to the recent surge in popularity of gluten-free dieting, gluten-free is still an uncontrolled term. The FDA proposed a < 20ppm gluten rule for gluten-free labeling in 2007 and reopened the proposed rule for comment last August, but many feel that too little is being done too slowly to control labeling of gluten content in foods.
In a move that is raising some eyebrows, Tim Lawson, a sufferer of celiac disease and CEO and founder of New Grains Gluten Free Bakery is suing Utah Senator Orrin Hatch for obstructing FDA progress on the issue. Lawson, who feels the plight of the roughly nine million celiac disease sufferers in America, asserts that more funding should be allocated to expedite the FDA's regulation process of gluten-free labeling.
Whether or not his concern is valid, it is doubtful that such a lawsuit will hold up in court. Lawson is essentially suing senator Hatch for refusing to exert his influence to raise funds for the FDA. Hatch is certainly not the only senator guilty of such inaction, so it is unclear why Lawson would single him out.
According to Hatch's spokesman, Matthew Harakal, “... there is no legitimate cause of action against a legislator for failing to appropriate taxpayer dollars to address any one constituent's specific, individual desires.”
Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah also comments, “Anybody could allege that, as a result of a member of Congress not voting one particular way they've then suffered some kind of adverse effect...” It is hard to hold Hatch liable for any hardship suffered by celiacs when, as Cassell suggests, literally every action taken by any American senator works against the favor of some group or another.
At the very least though, Lawson is making it known that he, and many celiac disease sufferers are unhappy with how gluten-free labeling is currently handled in America. Even if it is doubtful that he will win his lawsuit, he has likely gotten Hatch's attention, and sometimes that is all it takes to get things done.
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