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Name: Richard Berman

Profession: Restaurant and Tobacco Industry Hatchet Man

Corporate Front Groups: Center for Consumer Freedom / ActivistCash / Berman and Company / American Beverage Institute / Employment Policies Institute / Employment Roundtable

Barman tells congress under oath that the Center for Consumer Freedom represents restaurant operators

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Richard Berman. I am the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The Center does not accept and has never received government funds.

On behalf of American restaurant operators and food producers, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing today.

The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by lobbyist Richard Berman, a darling of the tobacco, booze, and agribusiness interests.

The so-called "Center for Consumer Freedom" is a phony consumer group funded by food and agribusiness companies that include Tyson Foods ($100,000.), Wendy's ($200,000.), Monsanto ($200,000.), Outback Steakhouse ($164,000), Coca-Cola ($200,000), Excel/Cargill ($100,000.), Pilgrim's Pride ($100,000) and dozens of other firms.

The Center for Consumer Freedom is run by Republican lobbyist Richard Berman, a darling of the tobacco, booze, and agribusiness interests. Companies like Monsanto and Tyson fund him to attack their critics, and his favorite tactic is the ad hominem attack, misrepresenting, misquoting and smearing public interest activists.

Berman was bankrolled in the mid-1990s with $900,000 from Philip Morris, the tobacco and food giant, and he has been funded since by them and by dozens of other food, beverage and restaurant companies. Berman is basically a food industry hatchet man with a considerable budget provided by industry, most of which goes into his own organizations and pockets.

Berman's strategy: shoot the messenger

In a 1999 interview with the Chain Leader, a trade publication for restaurant chains, Berman boasted that he attacks activists more aggressively than other lobbyists. "We always have a knife in our teeth," he said. Since activists "drive consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine," his strategy is "to shoot the messenger. ... We've got to attack their credibility as spokespersons."

Berman's list of enemies

Anyone who criticizes tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods or soda pop is likely to come under attack from Berman's front groups. His enemies list has included such diverse groups and individuals as the Alliance of American Insurers; the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; the American Medical Association; the Arthritis Foundation; the Consumer Federation of America; New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; the Harvard School of Public Health; the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems; the National Association of High School Principals; the National Safety Council; the National Transportation Safety Board; the Office of Highway Safety for the state of Georgia; Ralph Nader's group, Public Citizen; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Enemies list take two:

In a May 11, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle article, CCF spokesman John Doyle responded to questions about nationwide radio ads put out by the group. He said the ads were meant to attract people to their website and "draw attention to our enemies: just about every consumer and environmental group, chef, legislator or doctor who raises objections to things like pesticide use, genetic engineering of crops or antibiotic use in beef and poultry."

Berman tried to deceive children searching for a healthy eating website

According to the latest ruling, "[I]t appears that [CCF] attempted to create confusion among Internet users looking for [CSPI's] websites." While one of the sites at issue,, criticized CSPI, CCF redirected traffic from to the kid's section of the American Dental Association's (ADA)'s web site. According to CSPI, that helped show that CCF acted in bad faith, merely intending to confuse the young visitors trying to reach

Berman spread false information defending the use of known carcinogen Alar

An article in the December 15,1999 copy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer describes Berman's support for Uniroyal, the company that produces Alar(tm), a pesticide used on apples. Through his Guest Choice Network (currently the Center for Consumer Freedom) Berman published a newsletter that minimized the risks of Alar to children. The newsletter stated, "According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one would have to eat 50,000 pounds of apples a day over a lifetime to contract cancer from Alar." In response, EPA spokeswoman Denise Kearns said, "To my knowledge, EPA never issued that kind of statement." In the end Berman admitted that the source of his information was a statement made by Uniroyal. Alar has since been banned due to cancer risks.

Berman's lobbying network serves the interest of its funders

Known CCF funders:

Confirmed funding:

  • 4 B's Restaurants $200
  • Advantica Restaurant Group $10,000
  • Armour-Swift Eckrich $5,000
  • Bestfoods Foodservice $1,250
  • Buca, Inc. $500
  • Carlson Hospitality Worldwide $1,000
  • Chart House Enterprises $2,500
  • Comarco Products $2,000
  • Country Kitchen International $1,000
  • Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. $1,500
  • Louise's Trattoria $500
  • Max & Erma's Restaurants, Inc. $2,500
  • Ruby Tuesday, Inc. $500
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House, Inc. $1,000
  • Standard Meat $17,500
  • Trinchero Family Estates $10,000

2001 Contributions

  • Anton's Airfoods, Inc. $3,000
  • Applebee's International, Inc. $15,000
  • Cameron Mitchell Restaurants $1,250
  • Campagna-Turano Bakery, Inc. $500
  • Casual Restaurant Concepts $3,300
  • Coca-Cola Company $200,000
  • Coldwater Seafood $15,000
  • Crystal's International $252
  • Custom Cuts $1,500
  • Daisy Brand $1,000
  • Excel/Cargill $100,000
  • Fired Up $6,000
  • Hatfield Quality Meats $33,700
  • HMS Host Corporation $50,000
  • Jeff's Gourmet Pies $1,000
  • John R. Daily Company $750
  • Kagome, Inc. $1,086
  • King and Prince Seafood $9,200
  • KorBert, Inc. $300
  • KPR Foods $1,000
  • LTP Management Group $3,250
  • Marie Callendar Pie Shops $11,900
  • Mexican Restaurants $750
  • Monsanto $200,000
  • National Steak and Poultry $10,000
  • North American Enterprises $500
  • North American Provisioners $150
  • Not Your Average Joe's $347
  • Outback Steakhouse $164,600
  • P.F. Chang's China Bistro $15,000
  • Packaging Corporation of America $10,000
  • Performance Food Group $15,000
  • Pilgrim's Pride Corporation $100,000
  • Pro Edge $2,400
  • Quantum Foods $18,000
  • Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers $1,000
  • Rare Hospitality $15,000
  • Real Food Marketing $500
  • Restaurant Concepts $6,000
  • Rosemount Estates (Southcorp Wines) $5,300
  • Royal Cup $1,000
  • Save-on Seafood $2,000
  • Sugar Foods Corporation $5,000
  • T. Marzetti Company $10,000
  • TriOak Foods $5,100
  • Tyson Foods, Inc. $100,000
  • Wendy's International, Inc. $200,000
  • White Castle System $43,872
  • Worldwide Restaurants Concepts $1,500

2002 Contributions

  • Brinker International, Inc. $25,000
  • Cameron Mitchell Restaurants $1,250
  • Campagna-Turano Bakery, Inc. $500
  • China Mist $400
  • Coffee Reserve, Inc. $140
  • Darifair Foods $5,000
  • Dean Foods Company $5,000
  • Eli's Cheesecake Company $1,000
  • Excel/Cargill $100,000
  • Good Humor/Breyer's Ice Cream $1,500
  • HMS Host Corporation $25,000
  • John Soules Foods $1,000
  • Ken's Foods Inc. $5,000
  • Michigan Turkey Producers Cooperative $7,000
  • National Everclean Service $500
  • Not Your Average Joe's $347
  • Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Inc. $7,500
  • Perdue Farms, Inc. $40,000
  • Pro Clean $1,500
  • Revolution, Inc. $1,000
  • Royal Cup $1,500
  • RTM, Inc. $64,872
  • Simmons Foods, Inc. $5,000
  • Sun Orchard, Inc. $2,000
  • Syracuse's Italian Sausage $500
  • Tyson Foods, Inc. $100,000

More funders

Although Berman refuses to disclose the identity of its anonymous funders, the following companies have been linked to Berman & Co. in news reports and other public documents:
  • American Restaurant Group, Inc.
  • Arby's
  • Brinker International, Inc.
  • Burger King
  • Carson Restaurants Worldwide
  • Chili's
  • Chi-Chi's
  • Cracker Barrel
  • El Torito
  • Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association
  • Hard Rock Café
  • Hooters of America, Inc.
  • Houston's Restaurants, Inc.
  • International House of Pancakes
  • Jack-in-the-Box
  • KKR Enterprises, Inc.
  • Luby's, Inc.
  • Marie Callender Pie Shops, Inc.
  • Marriott Corp.
  • Metromedia Restaurant Group
  • Olive Garden
  • Outback Steakhouse, Inc.
  • Panda Management Company, Inc.
  • Perkins Family Restaurants, L.P.
  • Philip Morris
  • Rare Hospitality International
  • Red Lobster
  • Shoney's, Inc.
  • Sizzler
  • Steak & Ale
  • TGI Friday's
  • Uno Restaurant Corp.
  • Vicorp Restaurants, Inc.
  • Wendy's