(CN) – Doctors crusading for cancer warnings on grilled chicken won a partial victory in a California appeals court, which revived their claim that restaurants need to warn customers that “well-cooked” and “thoroughly cooked” chicken might contain carcinogens.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed the lawsuit against McDonald’s, TGIFriday’s, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, Chick-Fil-A and Applebee’s, claiming the restaurants should be required to warn consumers that grilled chicked may contain chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PhIP, known to cause cancer and birth defects.
Their proposed warning would read:
“WARNING: WELL-COOKED CHICKEN, INCLUDING THE CHICKEN SERVED IN THIS RESTAURANT, CONTAINS CHEMICALS KNOWN TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER.”
The restaurants responded that the warnings were pre-empted by the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act, because they conflicted with federal policy advocating the thorough cooking of chicken to avoid food-borne illness.
The trial court sided with the restaurants, but the Los Angeles-based Second District Court of Appeal reversed, ruling that the proposed warning did not conflict with federal policy concerning chicken.
But the appeals court stopped short of endorsing the doctors’ proposed warning language.
“The warning makes no reference to how chicken is cooked,” Justice Jeffrey Johnson wrote. “The vague language is deceptive and would cause a customer to doubt the safety of all chicken products served at the restaurants, whatever the cooking method.”