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Top 5 most controversial food laws

This week a committee of the Minnesota House made national news when it passed the so-called cheeseburger bill, a proposed law that would prevent fat people from suing the fast-food industry over their health problems caused by scarfing too much fatty food and soda.

The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act was sponsored by Republican Dean Urdahl of Grove City, who argued that it would prevent frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant awards that could be passed on to consumers. Opponents said it was a favor to corporations and a solution in search of a problem, since nobody in America has ever won a case like this.

The cheeseburger bill is just the latest skirmish in the food wars. More and more, government bodies have been weighing in on what and how we eat. Here are five other controversial food laws and regulations that have made news recently. Are these examples of a nanny state run amok or simple common sense?

1. Happy Meals In November 2010, San Francisco outlawed McDonald's Happy Meals. (Well, technically it banned toys served with foods that don't meet particular guidelines for calories, sugar, and fat.)

2. Trans fats New York banned the use of trans fats in restaurants in 2006, which includes many cooking oils, shortenings, and margarine. Two years later, California followed suit, and included all food facilities, a law that took full effect this year.

3. Soda pop In July of last year, the mayor of San Francisco banned all soft drinks from being sold from vending machines on city property. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg last October asked the USDA for permission to prevent food stamp recipients in the city from using their stamps to pay for soda pop.

4. Fast-food restaurants In December, the Los Angeles City Council permanently barred new fast-food restaurants from opening in South L.A., an area with an obesity rate of 30 percent, which is double the rate of wealthier areas of the city.

5. School foods Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in December, which is expected to eliminate most junk foods in schools nationwide. The St. Paul school district has gone one better and declared that all schools in the city will be completely sweets-free by the end of this school year. The ban, coming after a study found that 40 percent of St. Paul's fourth-graders are obese, makes it one of the few districts in the nation to impose an all-out ban on sweets.

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