What Does Mac and Cheese Have to Do With Medicine?
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, The Washington Post published an article about a South Floridian woman who filed a lawsuit against the Kraft Heinz Co. for false advertising. The lawsuit alleges that the company’s Velveeta mac and cheese cups take longer than 3.5 minutes to prepare. The instructions on the back of the box, the plaintiffs say, call for 3.5 minutes of microwave time alone. The time it takes to tear open the lid and stir the ingredients together are not taken into account, and therefore the product’s packaging is deceptive.
The class action suit, led by plaintiff Amanda Ramirez, is asking Kraft to pay $5 million in damages for deceptive and unfair trade practices. The lawyers say there are probably more than “100 victims” spread across multiple states where the product is sold.
The reason why the story is so compelling, and has been amplified by many social media platforms, is that it possesses shock appeal — it grabs our attention and elicits a visceral reaction. Perhaps it even offends our moral instincts. We say to ourselves, “That’s absurd,” or “That’s ridiculous,” or “I can’t believe it.” Deep within our collective guts, we have a sense that the complaint lacks merit, and so it gnaws at our sense of right and wrong.
So, you’re probably asking yourself, how does this mac and cheese complaint pertain to the subject of medicine? How does it relate to the glut of malpractice lawsuits in the U.S.?
In my opinion, cases like these that garner national attention trickle into our collective subconsciousness. They influence our attitude toward litigiousness. When a person suffers an apparent medical insult or injury, whether or not they decide to take legal action is partly determined by the cultural milieu in which they live.
Now, let me be clear, I’m all for defending individual consumers against unchecked corporate power. The country and the world are a…