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2002-04-15

Emile Zola
B. 2.4.1840 Paris / D. 9.30.1902 Paris
Accidental Asphyxiation

In 1884 Captain Alfred Dreyfus of France was accused of selling military secrets to Germany. In 2002 a woman is suing a snack food company for $50 million saying its label on Pirate's Booty corn and rice puffs foiled her diet.
He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but in 1886 new evidenced surfaced that seemed to exonerate Dreyfus. In her lawsuit, Meredith Berkman, 37, claims she suffered "emotional distress" because the snack contained three times more fat than its label advertised. Berkman said it caused her "weight gain. . .mental anguish, outrage and indignation."
The military tried to suppress the information and failed, and the case became a political firestorm. Pirate's Booty, manufactured by Robert's American Gourmet Food, Inc., was recalled in January after the Good Housekeeping Institute found it contained 147 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, while its label said it contained only 120 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.
On the anti-Dreyfus side were royalists, militarists and Roman Catholics. The company claimed the discrepancy was a result of new machinery that changed the nutritional information on three of its snacks—Pirate's Booty, Veggie Booty and Fruity Booty.
Those defending Dreyfus were republicans, socialists and anti-clerics, including famed author Emile Zola, who was sentenced to jail for criticizing the government's role. The military would not acknowledge any injustice, and the case dragged on until Dreyfus was finally pardoned in 1906. A message left at the company's headquarters was not immediately returned,
After 101 years, the French army officially said they had been wrong. The affair revealed an institutionalized anti-Semitism in the army and helped unite the French left, eventually leading to the separation of church and state. but a statement on its Web site said, "These changes have made Pirate's Booty a more consistent and better snack." The new version contains 5 grams of fat, which was verified by Good Housekeeping.

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