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Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler Elected Chair of CSPI Board of Directors

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Dr. David A. Kessler has been elected chair of the board of directors of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, the food and health watchdog group announced today. Kessler, who served as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 1990 to 1997 and who went on to serve as dean of the Yale School of Medicine and dean and vice chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, has served as a member of CSPI’s board since 2010.

As FDA Commissioner, Kessler oversaw the agency’s implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which required mandatory Nutrition Facts on packaged foods, and became known as an outspoken advocate for greater regulation of nicotine and the tobacco industry. He was appointed to the position by President George H.W. Bush and retained by President William Clinton.

 “Better than almost anyone, David Kessler knows how the food environment affects Americans’ choices and health, and how both government and groups like CSPI can change that environment for the better,” said CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie. “We’re grateful to have a visionary leader of David’s stature chair our board as CSPI begins its next chapter.”

“I have seen CSPI from the outside, in my position as a regulator, and I’ve seen CSPI up close as a member of its board,” said Kessler. “I’m impressed by its tenacity, by its commitment to sound science, and by the way it is changing the way America eats for the better. And I look forward to serving America’s leading food and health watchdog organization into its future.”

Kessler takes over as board chair from Lisa Heinzerling, the William J. Brennan, Jr., Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, who has served on the board since 2013 and will be stepping down from the board.

A graduate of Amherst College, Kessler received his MD from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Chicago. Kessler is the author of A Question of Intent: A Great American Battle with a Deadly Industry, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite and Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering, among other works.

Founded in 1971, CSPI led the fight for passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, successfully pushed for the elimination of artificial trans fat from the food supply, and lobbied for passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which added more fruits and vegetables and removed soda and other junk-foods from school meals. CSPI also helped mobilize support for landmark food safety legislation and for adding calorie counts to chain restaurant menus. CSPI accepts no corporate or government donations and publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter, which accepts no advertising.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Richard Adcock (radcock[at]cspinet.org).