Media Eat Up Food Police Messages and Ignore Group's Extremism

If it wouldn’t cause death, the Center for Science in the Public Interest would probably try to ban eating and drinking altogether, but when the media report on CSPI rarely are its extreme positions emphasized.

According to CSPI, "it takes more than willpower" to make decisions about what to eat, so it's here to help by promoting bans, more regulations and higher taxes on what it considers "unhealthy."

“[A] new study says that if you’re out for Chinese, even the good stuff could be bad for you,” said ABC’s Terry Moran on “Nightline” March 21.

In that same report, Jessica Yellin and CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson bantered happily about the problems with Chinese food: fat and sodium. Of course "Nightline" was reporting CSPI's latest study, the same day the food police released "Wok Carefully: CSPI Takes a (Second) Look at Chinese Restaurant Food."

Often called a "consumer advocacy" group by the media, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), crops up in quite a few reports: 27 in the month of February 2007 alone.

But CSPI is certainly extreme. The group has waged campaigns or initiated food scares at least 91 times since its founding in 1971, according to Steven J. Milloy of the Free Enterprise Education Institute.

In fact it has attacked the safety of drinking water, fresh produce, an additive to bread dough, eggs, as well as wine, beer, soda, milk, coffee, sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, oils and fats, poultry, meats and cheese for various reasons. And that list doesn't even include "junk food" and sweets, types of food (Italian, Greek, etc.) or particular restaurants CSPI has attacked. So what are we supposed to eat -- grass?

CSPI's Jacobson has even said that the use of salt by food makers is "good for funeral directors and coffin makers, but it is a disaster for shoppers and restaurant patrons."

As Business & Media Institute adviser, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, has written, "The word 'moderation' does not seem to be part of this movement's vocabulary."

If only the media would make that clear.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.