In its call for enacting Prohibition on the soft drinks widely enjoyed by Americans, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) calls soda a “bioweapon,” as if the only thing terrorists need to overrun America are a few 2-liter bottles of sweet fizzy drink. Of course, that line is purely headline-robbing hyperbole.
Hyperbole, not science, is CSPI’s stock-in-trade and has been for some time. Textual over-reaching is their specialty, for instance:
- Salt: CSPI boss Michael Jacobson called the common ingredient “the deadly white powder you already snort”
- Fettuccine Alfredo: According to CSPI, the Italian-American favorite is a “heart attack on a plate”
- Tapioca Pudding: CSPI petitioned that the dessert be labeled “chemically modified food starch,” lest kids get a taste for it
- Fried Onions: To the group, the appetizer is “a bomb”
- Fast Food Hamburgers: The “equivalent of a snuff film,” in Jacobson’s words
- McDonalds: CSPI Scientific Advisory Board member Kelly Brownell said, “There is no difference between Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel”
All of this is absurd. Food is necessary to live, and when consumed in moderation with compensating physical activity even the most decadent — or in CSPI-speak, “Xtreme,” because it’s still the 1990s over there — foods are okay.
And CSPI’s advice is often outright wrong. The Center acquitted trans fats in the late 1980s which led to many restaurants and food manufacturers to switch, but later flip flopped on the issue. CSPI attacks eggs — the same food that the Harvard Heart Letter calls “a good source of nutrients.” The group continued to scaremonger against sugar substitute saccharin even after the National Toxicology Program ruled that the ingredient was not carcinogenic. Now even the EPA recognizes that saccharin is not a hazard to human health.