Center for Science in the Public Interest

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a consumer organization which undertakes research and advocacy programs, as well as providing consumers with information about health and well-being.

In 2010, they won a class-action suit against Coca-Cola, to have their misleading statements regarding Vitamin Water removed.[1]

Their three main goals are:

  • To provide useful, objective information to the public and policymakers and to conduct research on food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues related to science and technology;
  • To represent the citizen's interests before regulatory, judicial and legislative bodies on food, alcohol, health, the environment, and other issues; and
  • To ensure that science and technology are used for the public good and to encourage scientists to engage in public-interest activities.

Food restriction advocacy[edit]

CSPI sees certain food ingredients as harmful, at least in the quantities that they're consumed in the developed world. They advocate government limits on those food ingredients. The three food items they seek limits on most fervently are:

CSPI's stance on trans fat represents a reversal of their position from the early 1990s. Before evidence of trans fat's unhealthfulness became available, CSPI advocated replacing the lard and tallow used for frying in fast food restaurants with partially hydrogenated oils, on the grounds of lowering the American intake of saturated fats.[6]

CSPI has also petitioned the U.S. FDA to ban synthetic food dyes.[7][8] They have no problem, though, with natural food colorings like annatto and paprika. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) disagrees with this position, saying that artificial food dyes are banned in some European countries because of "a poorly conceived study that examined mixtures of additives, and then asked parents to evaluate their children’s behavior."[9][10] (Actually, the European Union didn't ban artificial food dyes, it merely imposed a requirement that foods containing them carry the warning: "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." This didn't stop Kraft from removing artificial dyes from its macaroni & cheese in 2016 due to pressure from food activists, though.[11]) A 2012 meta-analysis concluded that synthetic food dyes may have an effect on ADHD, but that a conclusion could not be drawn due to small sample sizes and publication bias.[12]

Other food items CSPI has opposed include:

External links[edit]


  1. Vitamin water isn't healthy, rules Federal judge
  2. Salt: The Forgotten Killer
  3. "Taxing Soda Could Trim State Deficits (and Waistlines), Says Report". 2010-04-01. 
  4. Whether they'll expand their advocacy to a tax on all added sugars, in light of this May 2013 CDC press release which states that "Foods contributed 67% of calories from added sugars compared with 33% from beverages" in adults, remains to be seen.
  6. Enig, Mary. The Tragic Legacy of Center for Science in the Public Interest. Weston A. Price Foundation: January 6, 2003.
  8. CSPI on food coloring: a pointless warning,, 13-May-2014
  9. ACSH staff. (March 8, 2013). "Mac and Cheese food dyes Mac And Cheese To Dye For?" American Council on Science and Health. Accessed December 1, 2021.
  10. The study in question: Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, The Lancet, vol. 370 issue 9598, 3-9 Nov 2007, pp. 1560–1567
  11. What’s So Bad About Artificial Food Dye, Anyway?, 23-April-2015
  12. J.T. Nigg et al., Meta-analysis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, restriction diet, and synthetic food color additives, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 51 no. 1 (January 2012), pp. 86-97
  13. FDA Should Reconsider Aspartame Cancer Risk, Say Experts
  14. Chemical Cuisine: Learn about Food Additives
  15. FDA Urged to Prohibit Carcinogenic "Caramel Coloring"
  16. FDA Should Ban Azodicarbonamide, Says CSPI