Faculty Members Join Nutrition Letter to White House and Federal Agencies

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Three faculty members of The University of Tulsa College of Law were recently invited by the organization, Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP), to join nearly 40 other legal scholars in signing a letter sent to officials at the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the White House urging lawmakers to reject the proposition that the Interagency Working Group principles on marketing junk food to children violate the First Amendment.

Gary Allison, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Tamara Piety, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor of Law, and Sam Halabi, Assistant Professor of Law, signed the letter, along with scholars from such institutions as Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Stanford Law School, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School.

The letter was intended to counter industry efforts to impede new federal nutrition recommendations for items marketed directly to children. The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (IWG), a collaboration of federal agencies, released nutrition recommendations in the spring that food and advertising industries have claimed violate the First Amendment.

"The IWG recommendations are merely suggestions as to how companies may act responsibly with respect to the marketing of foods with poor nutritional quality to children," Piety said. "The guidelines of the IWG, which are merely advisory, do not restrain or compel anyone’s speech, and these companies may ignore the recommendations if they wish. Professors Allison, Halabi and I were happy to lend our voices to counter the rather spurious legal arguments of the food and advertising industries on this matter."

PHLP is a non-profit organization composed of attorneys, policy analysts, and urban planners dedicated to improving public health conditions. Its services include policy research and analysis, technical legal assistance, and community training

Scott Been