Baffled" Dazed and confused" Ms. Mootpoint tells it like it is
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Minute Maid can keep labeling one of its beverages “pomegranate blueberry,” even though it's made up almost entirely of apple and grape juices and contains only 0.3 percent pomegranate juice and 0.2 percent blueberry juice. – News item, San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 2012
Dear Ms. Mootpoint: For generations we've raised 17 different kinds of fruit on our 100,000-acre ranch. We have enough labels printed to last us into the next decade. But now the weather and the economy have caught up with us, and we only have guavas, papayas and bananas to sell to the juice market. But what do we do with all the grape juice labels? We can't print more, we'll go broke. And what do we tell our customers? ~ Cesar Chavez
Dear Cesar: You must have a couple of pints of grape juice lying around. Take an eyedropper and pay some flunky to add a drop to each container and you'll do fine. If customers complain, just quote the findings of the federal appeals court. It's clear they're on the side of the merchant, not the consumer. If they don't care about the consumer, why should you?
Dear Ms. Mootpoint: In these waning days of book publishing, I have to make a living somehow. I've published books on the cheap for years, but now even my cheap system doesn't seem to work anymore. Can you help me? ~ Jane Austen
Dear Jane: Of course. Dredge up the work of a variety of struggling authors, doesn't matter who. The more unknown the better. Add a story by John Steinbeck and title the book something like "The Best Short Stories Ever Written.” On the copyright page you can cite the findings of the Federal Appeals Court. It's clear they're on the side of the merchant, not the consumer. If they don't care about the consumer, why should you?
Dear Ms. Mootpoint: I run a small asphalt business in a small state, and I want to make more money. You say the federal appeals court has let this juice company brag about its pomegranate and blueberry juices, even though 99.4 percent of the product is apple and grape. But I don't sell food. I sell a product with very specific measurements of very specific ingredients. If I don't mix it right, the pavement buckles or cracks or washes away. ~ John D. Rockefeller
Dear John: It doesn't buckle or crack or wash away immediately, does it? People can certainly drive on it for a while. Sure, you'll go to court eventually, but you're bound to win any case that comes up. There's a precedent. Just cite the findings of the Federal Appeals Court. It's clear they're on the side of the merchant. If they don't care about the consumer, why should you?
Dear Ms. Mootpoint: Your headline implies that if I'm dazed and confused, I should just come to you for an answer. But now I'm more confused than ever. According to the story about this verdict, the court declined to urge the FDA to act. "FDA regulations authorize the name Minute Maid has chosen. For a court to act when the FDA has not ... would risk undercutting the FDA's expert judgments and authority."
I get such chills thinking about how little the government cares about the public. But when I come to you for reassurance, you tell me it's hopeless. Yet you almost guarantee that you'll provide a reasonable answer! ~ Pollyanna
Dear Pollyanna: I don't have to give my readers what I promise, even if I promise. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says so. If they don't care about the consumer, why should I?
Susan Rushton's column appears every other Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.