With health advocates threatening to sue McDonald's and impose "fat taxes" on snacks, what's the junk-food industry to do? The answer: Borrow a page from the gun lobby's playbook and launch a PR campaign to convince Americans that it's not the food's fault if you're fat. Leading the charge is the Center for Consumer Freedom, an organization created to defend "the freedoms we hold dear, like nachos, Ding Dongs, and powdered-sugar doughnuts." The center is using opinion pieces, magazine ads, websites, and talk shows to attack what it calls the "food police."
Founded by Rick Berman, a longtime lobbyist for the food industry, the center won't disclose its backers, but documents show that it has received at least $2 million from Philip Morris, maker of Oreos, Doo Dads, and Cheez Whiz. To beef up their presence in Washington, junk-food companies have also backed several other lobbying groups, including the American Council on Science and Health. As part of its mission to keep America fit, the council has issued a list of "summer tips for staying healthy." Its title: "For Your Upcoming Picnic, Don't Hold the Mayo."