CSPI: 40 years of food libeling

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Evelyn Theiss says CSPI has “educated Americans for 40 years.” We say CSPI, not food, should be labeled as hazardous to health.

Theiss, who seems to know little about food or nutrition in the first place (she was “horrified” to find the soup at a French bistro was made with butter) praises CSPI for “telling us how nutritionally awful some foods are, like fettucine Alfredo (heart attack on a plate, according to CSPI), movie popcorn and fried Chinese food. Of course, in isolation, most individual foods and beverages are “nutritionally awful.” That’s why people are encouraged to eat a variety of foods to get the nutrition they need.

But over the past 40 years, CSPI has condemned virtually every food sold for one reason or another, typically through some sort of contrived health scare and marketing gimmick. As pointed out, however, in False Alarm: The Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1971-2006, CSPI’s “science” is generally wrong and/or alarmist.

Theiss gives CSPI credit for helping to pass legislation requiring the labeling of a food’s sodium, sugar, saturated fat etc. content. Perhaps labeling satisfies the curiosity of some, but in many respects it is just as misleading as it is informative.

We know that there’s more to nutrition and bodyweight than simply calories-in and calories-out. The “percent daily value” information for no nutrient has been determined scientifically. The 2,000-calorie daily diet amount is based on what the FDA imagines are the caloric needs of a post-menopausal woman — just who she is, no one knows. Planning a diet on based on nutrition labels is doomed to failure as the labels don’t take into account the most important part of the food consumption equation — the individual consumer.

The bottom line, Ms. Theiss, is that there are no “good” foods or “bad” foods. There are just foods. Each has its value — and pure enjoyment is a bona fide food value.

This is in stark contrast to CSPI, which has provided no discernible value to the public. What needs to be labeled is the flagrantly mislabeled CSPI — the group is habitually wrong on the science and doesn’t act in the public interest.

For years, CSPI has been disparaged as the “food police.” But that term erroneously gives them too much credit. Food labeling? Ha! CSPI is the “food libeler.”

5 thoughts on “CSPI: 40 years of food libeling”

  1. How many people have died from listening to CSPI?

    I know of at least one teenager who was put on fat supplement medication because she followed the no fat diet they insist upon. She was having severe health problems because she did not get enough fat in her diet.


    OK, it may be a tad bit redundant, but it does apply.

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