ABC Labels Litigious Food Police a Consumer Group

ABC Labels Litigious Food Police a Consumer Group
Industry critic CSPIs lawsuit escaped critical review on World News Tonight

By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
June 14, 2006

     ABCs Charlie Gibson promised his June 13 World News Tonight viewers a look at why a leading consumer group has a bone to pick over the fat in KFC food. But that organization was none other than the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an anti-food industry group that has had a beef with everything from movie theater popcorn to soda pop.

     The Center for Science in the Public Interest is taking KFC to court over the trans fat used to fry the chicken, Gibson noted as he introduced a segment by correspondent Elisabeth Leamy. The consumer group says trans fat is killing a lot of Americans.

     Leamy began her story by pitting the fast food chicken chains slogan against CSPIs harsh rhetoric. KFC says we do chicken right, but the chain fries its food in oil loaded in trans fat, Leamy added, complaining of the partially hydrogenated oil the restaurant uses.

     The ABC reporter then showed CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson blasting the food chain: If they had a conscience, they wouldnt use it, he charged.

     Contrary to the consumer group label Leamy affixed to CSPI, her reporting made it clear Jacobsons complaint wasnt with consumers being uninformed about health risks from trans fats, but with the consumers choices to consume them nonetheless.

     KFC says it discloses its trans fat levels online and in each restaurant, Leamy conceded, but quickly added CSPIs rebuttal. In the hamburger chains, the trans fat is in the side dishes. At KFC, its in the main course and some of the side dishes, Jacobson griped.

     In a press release that began gleefully with the line See you in court, Colonel Sanders, Jacobson defended his lawsuit against Yum Brands, (NYSE: YUM) KFCs parent company.

     CSPI would far prefer the trans-fat problem be solved through voluntary action by restaurants or regulatory action by the FDA, but neither industry nor government has acted, he complained.

     Leamy left out how CSPI has attacked KFC before over its advertising, nor did she bring in any legal experts critical of CSPIs litigation.

     In May, the Business & Media Institute published two stories on how ABC and CBS papered over CSPIs litigious agenda.