Neurolaw: Revisiting Huberty v. McDonald’s through the Lens of Nutritional Criminology and Food Crime

Alan C. Logan, Jeffrey J. Nicholson, Stephen J. Schoenthaler, Susan L. Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)

Abstract

Recent studies have illuminated the potential harms associated with ultra-processed foods, including poor mental health, aggression, and antisocial behavior. At the same time, the human gut microbiome has emerged as an important contributor to cognition and behavior, disrupting concepts of the biopsychosocial ‘self’ and raising questions related to free will. Since the microbiome is undeniably connected to dietary patterns and components, the topics of nutrition and microbes are of heightened interest to neuroscience and psychiatry. Research spanning epidemiology, mechanistic bench science, and human intervention trials has brought legitimacy to nutritional criminology and the idea that nutrition is of relevance to the criminal justice system. The individual and community-level relationships between nutrition and behavior are also salient to torts and the relatively new field of food crime—that which examines the vast harms, including grand-scale non-communicable diseases and behavioral outcomes, caused by the manufacturers, distributors, and marketers of ultra-processed food products. Here in this essay, we will synthesize various strands of research, reflecting this emergent science, using a notable case that straddled both neurolaw and food crime, Huberty v. McDonald’s (1987). It is our contention that the legalome—microbiome and omics science applied in neurolaw and forensics—will play an increasing role in 21st-century courtroom discourse, policy, and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages19
JournalLaws
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2024

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