ABC Joins CSPI Attack on Restaurants

     The broadcast networks just can’t get enough of the food police.


     ABC joined in August 4 with a “Good Morning America” segment taken straight from a new report by the self-proclaimed food police at the liberal, pro-regulation Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).


     “The Center for Science in the Public Interest investigated the country’s top 25 chain restaurants and found that in most, over 90 percent of the kid’s menu meals packed way too many calories,” correspondent Ynji De Nies said.


     But her statement that “in most, over 90 percent … packed way too many calories” is incorrect. The CSPI report found that more than 90 percent of kid’s meal combinations surpassed the 430-calorie mark in nine restaurants – or 36 percent of the restaurants studied.


     De Nies’ segment featured CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson stirring up fear over kid’s meals. “A restaurant menu is a minefield and the explosions are going to be in your stomach, your arteries, your heart,” he said.


     Jacobson dramatically warned that kids would face severe medical problems because of fast food. “Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, that’s what coming down the road,” he said.


      De Nies included some input from the industry. National Restaurant Association spokeswoman Sheila Weiss noted that nutrition information is available “not just on the Web sites but in the restaurants as well on brochures and tray liners and posters.”


     And statements from Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken said they offer “a number of kid’s meal options that allow parents to customize.” KFC called the CSPI report “inaccurate.”


      But De Nies immediately moved to undermine the restaurants’ defense by quoting one anonymous woman who said, “You ask for side options besides French fries with a kids meal and they look at you like you have two heads.”


     The segment also ignored parents’ responsibility to choose food for their children wisely. Instead, it implicitly placed responsibility on restaurants to keep kids healthy.


     The networks have been obsessed with CSPI for years, parroting the group’s complaints about everything from coffee to food coloring.