Since 1971, CSPI has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.
Its award-winning newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter, with some 900,000 subscribers in the United States and Canada, is the largest-circulation health newsletter in North America.
Founded by executive director Michael Jacobson, Ph.D. and two other scientists, CSPI carved out a niche as the organized voice of the American public on nutrition, food safety, health and other issues during a boom of consumer and environmental protection awareness in the early 1970s. CSPI has long sought to educate the public, advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific evidence on health and environmental issues, and counter industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies.
Click on the video above to learn more about the founding and current work of CSPI.
Over the years, CSPI has grown along with its reputation as an influential and independent science-based organization. When he was Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler credited CSPI with "one of the greatest public health advances of the century" by promoting the importance of the link between diet and health to the government, industry, and the public. In 2007, the FDA Commissioner awarded CSPI the agency’s highest honor, the Harvey W. Wiley Special Citation. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey called Nutrition Action Healthletter "the master-mind critic that sounded the food alarms."
CSPI's accomplishments include leading the efforts to win passage of laws that require Nutrition Facts on packaged foods (and, later, to include trans fat on those labels), define the term "organic" for foods, and put warning notices on alcoholic beverages. CSPI also conducted eye-popping studies on the nutritional quality of restaurant meals and movie theater popcorn, helped to increase funding for the government's food safety inspections and nutrition and physical activity programs, and spurred new policies in some cities and states to remove soda and junk foods from schools. CSPI also helped New York City adopt the nation's first ordinances to ban trans fat from restaurants and list calorie information on menus and menu boards, and is working with other cities and states on similar measures. Read our 35th Anniversary Report, Building a Healthier America (PDF 5,930k).
CSPI is now working to:
- Get junk foods out of schools nationwide;
- Rid the food supply of partially hydrogenated oil, the source of artificial trans fat that promotes heart disease;
- Reduce sodium in processed and restaurant foods;.
- Improve food safety laws and reduce the incidence of foodborne illness;
- Advocate for more healthy, plant-based, environmentally-friendly diets;
- Ensure accurate and honest labeling on food packages;
- Require basic nutrition labeling on chain-restaurants’ menus and menu boards;
- Provide responsible information about the benefits and risks of agricultural biotechnology;
- Obtain greater federal funding for alcohol-abuse prevention policies; and
- Expose industry influence over the scientific process and in government policy-making.
As one of the nation’s top consumer advocates, CSPI will keep fighting for government policies and corporate practices that promote healthy diets, prevent deceptive marketing practices, and ensure that science is used to promote the public welfare. If you’d like to get involved in CSPI’s efforts, please subscribe to our Nutrition Action Healthletter, become a member of our Action Network, or donate today. If you are a journalist, you may sign up to receive news releases via e-mail.