It’s been less than a week since the food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a class-action lawsuit against KFC for using cooking oils once defended by CSPI itself. Shockingly, despite the fact that CSPI has “Public Interest” right in its name, not every member of the public is convinced the lawsuit is actually in his interest. At the lawsuit’s core, the editors of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal wrote this morning, is an ideology deeply opposed to consumer choice:
The lawsuit doesn’t claim that Kentucky Fried Chicken is using an illegal process to cook its food. It doesn’t allege that the restaurant chain violates the health codes of the states in which it operates. And it doesn’t claim that the company is misleading people about the oil it uses or the fat content of its food … In other words, [CSPI] doesn’t like the choices Kentucky Fried Chicken has made in its menu. It doesn’t like the choices made by people who eat at the restaurant. And it wants the government to put a stop to it.
What the lawsuit doesn’t acknowledge is CSPI’s role in defending trans fats. In a Friday editorial, The Washington Times drew the only natural conclusion: “Today, no one denies that Americans are consuming far too much trans fat. But if anybody should be sued for this reason, it is the scolds at CSPI who forced the fast-food chains to start using partially hydrogenated oils.“
A few more public voices had some harsh words for the lawsuit’s plaintiff, Arthur Hoyte. A writer for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal cracked on Saturday: “Apparently, Hoyte never realized that KFC stood for Kentucky FRIED Chicken. Not Baked, Grilled, Boiled, Broiled, Steamed or Barbecued.” Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman observed that while the company held up its end, Hoyte did not do the same:
For customers who care, KFC gives ample information on its Web site and in brochures available in its restaurants. The man CSPI is representing in this lawsuit says he knew trans fat is unhealthy but had no idea KFC uses it. If he didn’t care enough to ask, why should the courts care enough to intervene?