About CSPI

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been providing advice and advocacy toward a healthier food system since its founding in 1971.

We publish Nutrition Action Healthletter and NutritionAction.com and lead action across the country on nutrition, food safety, and health.

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 for 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.

Help us:

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 good. If you’d like to get involved in CSPI’s efforts, please subscribe to our Nutrition Action Healthletter, sign up for free Nutrition Action Healthy Tips, become a member of our Action Network, or donate today.

Nutrition policy director Margo Wootan testifies before Congress on the importance of labeling calories at chain pizza restaurants.

Our History

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 counter industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey called Nutrition Action Healthletter "the master-mind critic that sounded the food alarms."

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.

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 led the lobbying effort to get soda and junk food out of schools nationwide.  CSPI started the successful movement to put calorie counts on chain restaurant menus and menu boards—a policy that the FDA is now on the verge of implementing.

In recent years, CSPI has also led the fight to eliminate partially hydrogenated oil (the artificial kind of trans fat) from the food supply, successfully advocated for the addition of “added sugars” on Nutrition Facts labels, and spurred the FDA to issue voluntary sodium reduction targets for packaged and restaurant foods. 

NBC News’ Natalie Morales reports for the Today Show on the “winners” of CSPI’s annual Xtreme Eating Awards.