“I’m not ruining foods. The foods are being ruined by restaurants.”
– CSPI founder Michael Jacobson

Just five years after launching its first attack on full-service restaurants (in this case Chinese restaurants), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has become the Godzilla of the anti-choice movement. This group, which had an operating budget of just $400,000 a decade ago, now spends more than $13 million annually to denounce foods it deems unhealthy. And it has its sights firmly fixed on the restaurant industry.

Before CSPI began conducting highly unscientific studies on restaurant foods, they were nothing more than a splinter faction of Ralph Nader’s consumer “protection” empire, taking pot shots at the fast-food industry and warning about the dangers of trans fatty acids. Then they made the conscious decision to trade control groups and academic journals for blenders and press conferences – and to target full-service restaurants.

Since that day five years ago, CSPI has continued its assault on the restaurant industry with a fountain of ready-for-TV rhetoric and cooked-to-order “science.” Its recent Nutrition Action Health Letter, which boasts more than one million subscribers, reveals that CSPI intends to step up the restaurant attacks that made them rich and famous.

In the issue’s cover story, “The Pressure to Eat,” CSPI Advisory Board member and fat-tax advocate Kelly Brownell complains about an obesity “epidemic” caused by a “toxic food environment” created by the “food industry,” specifically restaurants. Once again, he calls for a fat tax “to change the American diet to be more healthy.”