Sunday, December 4, 2016

CSPI's Big Fat Secret

The Center for Science in the Public Interest blasted the BMJ this week for refusing to retract a September 2015 investigatory article by Nina Teicholz of Big Fat Surprise fame after two independent experts found "no grounds for retraction."

-- excerpted from official statement of CSPI Nutrition Director Bonnie Liebman

Though some of the information in Teicholz's article was not accurate, the BMJ published corrections.

In contrast, CSPI is infamous for making one of the biggest blunders in nutritional history, a mistake that endangered the public health it claims to protect. But you will not find any admission of this colossal error on the group's website.

Back in the 1980s, CSPI campaigned to get restaurants and fast food chains to replace natural fats like butter, beef tallow and lard with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils -- commonly called trans fats -- which it claimed were much healthier.

-- excerpted from The Atlantic
But then this happened:

-- excerpted from The Atlantic

Now this is where CSPI's revisionist history on its role in the sat fat scam gets fascinating. When the embarrassed watchdog group found itself on the wrong side of science, it pretended like its campaign to popularize poisonous trans fats never happened.

Here's how the group describes the history of trans fats on its website:

-- excerpted from CSPI website
The use of the passive voice here -- "were assumed to be healthier" -- takes a page out of Stalin's play book by acting like CSPI had nothing to do with the campaign to promote trans fats. Despite being one of the loudest voices of its day to replace healthier natural fats with hideous trans fats, CSPI takes no blame for this debacle and acts like it was vacationing in Hawaii when this all went down.

A CSPI website graphic of the timeline of its involvement in trans fats begins in 1993 -- several years after it had bullied McDonald's and other fast food chains to fry their french fries in partially hydrogenated oils.

from CSPI website

Equally duplicitous, another page of the CSPI website that lists the group's "victories," mentions this milestone for 1989...

. . . yet fails to mention that McDonald's replaced the beef fat with trans fat, a substance it now deems as dangerous as motor oil and Mountain Dew.

Fortunately, there is something called newspapers which has the memory of a wife. After the  FDA finally banned trans fats, Sarah Kaplan of the Washington Post wrote:

-- excerpted from the Washington Post
So why does CSPI now pretend like it was never a big time fan boy of trans fat?

Most likely the group fears it will lose major street cred on current claims that other substances, such as saturated fat, are the progeny of the devil and pond scum. The Photoshopped selfie on CSPI's website portrays a group that has always been on the right side of nutritional history, despite a raft of evidence to the contrary.

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