In Court

  • 14/03/2005

Asbestos crimes: In an exemplary verdict in the US, seven present and former executives of WR Grace & Company, an asbestos firm, were recently indicted for a 26-year conspiracy. They were charged with hiding from the company's workers, their families and other people the fact that the vermiculite mined in Libby, Montana, was contaminated with asbestos. This is the first time a major company's executives might face jail for concealing the hazards of asbestos from workers.

The contaminated vermiculite went to processing plants all over the country, including in northeast Minneapolis, where many people were affected by and died from asbestos-related illnesses. The company's executives also tried to disrupt a probe into the matter by the Environmental Protection Agency. David Uhlmann, chief of US Justice Department's environmental crimes unit, said it is "one of the most far-reaching environmental criminal cases that have been brought to date'. But David Ozonoff, professor of environmental health at Boston University, says: "The question I ask is: Why not all the others?'

McDonald's cornered again: US Fast food major McDonald's has agreed to pay US $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed against the company for using trans fatty acids (TFAs) in its cooking oils. TFAs clog arteries. The company will pay US $7 million to the American Heart Association and spend US $1.5 million in communicating its plans to the public about how it will deal with the TFAs in its food. The US government's recent dietary recommendations to the people also suggest limiting the intake of TFAs.

"McDonald's has reached an agreement to further notify our customers about the status of our ongoing initiative to reduce TFAs in our cooking oil,' the company said in a statement. Stephen Joseph, a lawyer, had sued McDonald's for not informing people about the delay in its plans to lessen TFAS in its cooking oils. He had earlier sued Kraft Foods for a similar reason.

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