Regulators to Take CSPI’s New Advice, Ignore CSPI’s Old Advice

130328_FoodPoliceBadge picThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a proposed rulemaking that would strike partially hydrogenated cooking oils (better known as “trans fats”) from the list of ingredients Generally Recognized as Safe. The regulation would create an effective ban.

While the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) declared victory in a ten-year campaign to label, regulate, restrict, and outlaw the cooking oils, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also reacted with outrage, saying, “All told, the charges against trans fat just don’t stand up.” We kid, but it is worth remembering that the usage of trans fats took off because CSPI — now dedicated to the cause of trans fat prohibition — campaigned for restaurants to switch over toward them in the 1980s and early 1990s. The “charges just don’t stand up” assessment comes from a 1988 article in CSPI’s newsletter; some years later, CSPI was leading the charge to get them out of restaurants and ultimately ban them outright.

Now regulators are relying on CSPI’s present assessment; namely, that trans fats deserve a skull-and-crossbones. We warn consumers and officials: CSPI has been very aggressively and quite confidently wrong before, so take their advice with (ahem) a grain of salt before, say, declaring sugar a “bioweapon.” When there is hardly a food or beverage that CSPI hasn’t attacked, the group is probably out ahead of the evidence.

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