Filed Under: Food Police

CSPI And Brownell: Two Twinkies In One Package

“If children have healthy foods available, they’ll eat healthy foods. If they have unhealthy foods available, they’ll eat those… Animals will do the same thing when put in a cage.”

That was Kelly Brownell, mullah of the “Twinkie tax,” in testimony before the U.S. Senate in late May. It’s the latest silly rhetoric from one of the grand poobahs of the anti-consumer movement. Some of Brownell’s greatest hits:

“Children are to the obesity field what second-hand smoke was to tobacco.”

“There is no difference between Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel… we have to start thinking about this in a more militant way.”

“Congress and state legislatures could shift the focus to the environment by taxing foods with little nutritional value. Fatty foods would be judged on their nutritive value per calorie or gram of fat. The least healthy would be given the highest tax rate… Consumption of high-fat food would drop.”

So who is Kelly Brownell? He’s one of the mainstays of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the infamous activist group that wants “taxes on snack foods and soft drinks,” dubbed fettuccini Alfredo a “heart attack on a plate,” and has trashed Chinese food, popcorn, pizza, and many other popular dishes. CSPI’s members are no blushing flowers when it comes to telling you what to eat (and, more often, what not to eat). [For more on CSPI, visit]

While some CSPI members say Brownell is not a part of their organization, Brownell is to CSPI as Peter Parker is to Spiderman:

Brownell and CSPI head Michael Jacobson together penned a 2000 American Journal of Public Health piece arguing that “a steep tax would probably reduce the consumption of the taxed foods and could be used to generate funding to subsidize healthful foods,” but “a small tax may be more politically feasible and would mostly go unnoticed by the public.”

Brownell has written for CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter, the organization’s primary product. Brownell also sits on the publication’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Brownell and Jacobson have worked together on an anti-McDonald’s campaign, anti-sugar efforts, and “Twinkie tax” proposals.

CSPI and Brownell want nothing less than what some anti-consumer activists call “a retooling of our environment” that limits choices. That means taxes, marketing restrictions, zoning restrictions, advertising bans, and more.

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