CNN Puts Food Police on Patrol in the Grocery Aisle


     Ah, the Fourth of July. Time for fireworks, barbeques … and stern lectures from the food police?


     CNN’s Independence Day edition of “American Morning” gave viewers a condescending sermon on how not to shop in the grocery store.


     The lecture, courtesy of former Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) advisory board member Marion Nestle, provided a laundry list of dos and don’ts when going to the supermarket consistent with Nestle’s extreme attitudes. In a Sept. 3, 2004, USA Today piece, Nestle made her position, saying there are some foods we “shouldn’t be eating at all.”


     CNN health correspondent Elizabeth Cohen began by highlighting Nestle’s complaint about food packaging and marketing. “Nestle warns that foods are packaged and placed in a way that says ‘buy me,’” Cohen griped.


      “The entire purpose of the supermarket is to get you to buy more, not less, whether those foods are the best things for you or not is secondary,” Nestle complained, essentially blaming supermarkets, not individual shoppers, but dietary habits.


     Cohen then showed two shoppers on trips to the supermarket and critiqued their habits.  “Lesson two: stick to the perimeter,” Cohen preached, warning that most foods in center aisles are “heavily processed.”   


     But wait, there’s more. Apparently the end of aisles are off-limits too.


      Cohen showed video of shopper Chris Cotter as he “slips up at the end of an aisle.” Poor Chris’s crime: picking up a package of bottled water.


      “Companies pay the supermarkets to place their products at eye level, which is ideal, or at the end of the aisles or cash registers,” Nestle complained, demonizing food processors and supermarkets as enemies of nutritious eating.


     But nowhere in Cohen’s story did the CNN reporter examine Nestle’s history of anti-food industry activism, including her past affiliation with CSPI or invite dissenting nutritionists to quibble with Nestle’s mantra to “skip the processed, load up on the fresh.”


     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented the media’s reliance on Nestle’s hard line against the food industry.