Filed Under: Food Police Snacks

Having Their Trans Fat Free Cake…

We were left scratching our heads after seeing the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times. Apparently eating cookies kills orangutans. You heard right, folks. We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.

By CSPI’s convoluted logic, the increased demand for palm oil — which is itself largely the result of CSPI’s decade-long campaign to force food manufacturers to replace trans-fat-containing oils with alternatives — is killing orangutans as palm tree farms expand into their habitat. Of course this is true! How else would our cookies have that delicious primate taste?

But no full-page ad could do justice to CSPI’s hypocrisy in blaming food producers for using palm oil. That story began in the late 1980s, when CSPI lobbied food companies to replace palm oil and beef tallow in their products with oils high in trans fats. Contemplating the trans-fat problem, CSPI wrote in 1988: “All told, the charges against trans fat just don’t stand up. And by extension, hydrogenated oils seem relatively innocent.

Companies eventually made the switch. CSPI claimed victory — and almost immediately launched a new campaign demonizing many of the same food companies for using CSPI-recommended oils. Now, as companies ditch oils high in trans fats for palm and other oils with similar properties, CSPI is up in arms again! And when a new fat called Olestra emerged — low in both saturated and trans fats — CSPI sued its manufacturer.

Perhaps the food cops at CSPI should take a dose of their own advice: “It’s foolish to play one [fat] against another.” Meanwhile, we’d venture to ask, “What’s next?” But the more appropriate question is, “What’s left?”

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