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Refrigerators, chocolate are both hazards

May 14, 2002|BY TIM ROWLAND

It's things like this that make me embarrassed to call myself an environmentalist. According to The Associated Press, "An environmental group sued chocolate manufacturers Wednesday, contending chocolate contains potentially hazardous levels of lead and cadmium and should carry warning labels."

It brings new meaning to the dessert "Death by Chocolate."

Forget the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture says kids younger than 6 who eat lots of chocolate take in 6 percent or less of what's allowed by law. The American Environmental Safety Institute wants us to be warned.

Warned of what? That if we eat 12 pounds of chocolate a day, it's potentially bad for us? That after the 25th Snickers bar we'd better stop?

And this is worth a lawsuit. Why? Lawyers cause stress and stress leads to high blood pressure, but you don't see any warning labels on lawyers. Maybe they should be checking for lead content in people's brains.

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However, it wasn't all bad news on the sugar front last week. According to the Washington Post, scientists cooked up a study to determine the effectiveness of the herbal remedy St. John's Wort compared with the antidepressant Zoloft.

It turned out to be a dead heat, with St. John's Wort curing 24 percent of depressed people, while Zoloft cured 25 percent. But they came a poor second and third to a sugar pill placebo, which cured 32 percent.

Sugar. Is there anything it can't do?

Apparently one-third of the people taking the placebo subconsciously figured they were getting the real thing, and that was enough to make them well. In essence, they cured themselves.

Or did they? Has anyone considered that sugar may have mental-health healing properties of its own? This clouds the chocolate/warning label issue a bit. "Warning: Use of this product may cause kidney damage - but you'll be happy about it."

A lot of women will tell you they feel better after eating chocolate. One Miami woman in particular whose life it may have saved "plunged 14 stories from a high-rise, landed on her rear and was back on her feet Monday," according to the AP.

If one's rear is of the amplitude and consistency so as to break a 14-story fall, it seems to me that many years of eating chocolate might have been involved.

Although her diet may have consisted more of the fried group than the chocolate group, since police said her fall was a suicide attempt - her second in two days.

Officer Mike Fresco, who arrived on the scene to find her up and walking around, said it was a sign from God "that this is not your time." It might also be a sign that even God can't stand your company.

This wasn't a total feel-good story, though. The woman destroyed a Honda CRV, which she landed upon. These days you really have to watch where you park. Or where you walk.

According to an item on The Daily Mail chat page, a woman in Hagerstown is looking for eyewitnesses to an incident "where a refrigerator was dropped from a second-floor balcony (and) landed right on top of me."

Kids, probably. You know how they're always throwing things off highway overpasses and stuff.

I'm hoping, of course, that she finds her eyewitnesses and takes the case to court. Clearly, appliance manufacturers need to be more liable for their products, including the labeling of their refrigerators:

"Warning: This product may be falling on your head."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. You can phone him at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or e-mail him at timr@herald-mail.com.

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