• University of Kentucky professor Clair Hicks supplied reporter Bill Hord of the Omaha World-Herald with insight on time-efficient tests of bio-engineered foods for the purpose of identification and labeling in the February 11 issue. “The consumer wants honesty in labeling,” Hicks was quoted in the article, “Food Industry Hungry for Biotech Tests.” And in Hicks’ opinion, organizations like Greenpeace that are opposed to genetically modified foods are driving the race to develop testing. “Their job of detection would be easier if there is a slick, simple testing system, ” Hicks said. The article also relied on food industry consultant and IFT member Charles Beck to add comment on the financially lucrative industry of GMO-testing devices. “What you are seeing are all of the opportunists in analytical chemistry realizing the paranoia . . . over detecting genetic changes in products,” Beck said. And University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Stephen Taylor noted, “There is going to be a need for a different kind of test for every genetically modified crop, or for the protein made from that crop.” Sunday circulation of World-Herald newspapers tops 250,000.
• Development of friendly bacteria designed to attack E. coli O157 and reduce its carriage in cattle made headlines with BBC News here and abroad. Michael Doyle, University of Georgia, and the university’s Center for Food Safety were front and center in the article, “Cattle Feed Could Eliminate ‘Burger Bug,’” published February 17. Doyle told members of the press assembled for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting that friendly bacteria have been isolated from the intestinal tracts of cattle that do not carry E. coli O157. Doyle said, “After a period of about two weeks the friendly bacteria usually out-compete the O157 and eliminate the O157 from the animal.” The article stated that Doyle estimates it will take about two years of trials and regulatory approval before an effective feed supplement is available commercially. Meantime, the article noted Doyle’s recommendations that vulnerable groups avoid visiting farms and more effective ways of disposing animal waste be developed.
• Video cameras in Tucson, Ariz., turned their electronic eye on professor Ralph Price at the University of Arizona. In a story on caffeine that aired February 19 on KOLD-TV News 13 at Ten, Price agreed with references to studies calling the stimulant America’s number one drug. Price informed viewers that caffeine affects the pleasure centers of the brain, similar to the behavior of other drugs. Tucson’s size places it among the Top 75 television markets in the nation.
• CBS Television’s West Palm Beach, Fla., affiliate, WPEC-TV, spent four minutes of its newscast February 5 informing viewers of the latest research on fish consumption. News 12 at Five medical reporter Colleen Gallagher devoted a large portion of that segment referencing the three-year study of farm-raised fish by Charles Santerre, Purdue University. In addition to the coverage noted in this column last month, Santerre’s study has also gained attention in the UPI wire service, The Detroit News, and the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. The latter two distribute more than 200,000 newspapers to their respective markets daily. West Palm Beach is a Top 50 television market, with WPEC-TV boasting 47,000 viewers of its five o’clock newscast.
• Advice for the do-it-yourself herbal vinegar maker was provided online by William Morris, University of Tennessee, at CNNfn, the cable news company’s financial Web site. In the article, “Homemade Herbal Vinegar Adds Flavor,” Morris suggested choosing white vinegar over cider vinegar at the start, so that fewer flavors compete with the herb flavor. Morris did note that many chefs will choose to use wine vinegar, and a good mixing ratio is one tablespoon dried herbs to two cups vinegar. Morris stated that making herbal vinegar at home is safe, but warned against amateurs mixing herbs and oils. “The oil does not have the same preservative ability as vinegar, and will allow microorganisms to grow.”
• The new year brought with it the opportunity to debunk a new diet plan lacking scientific research. In the January 1 article, “Beware of ‘Miracle’ Diets,” published in the News Journal of Wilmington, Del., Sue Snider, University of Delaware, stated, “There is no basis for suggesting that cooked food has no nutritional value.” Her comment referenced the new Hallelujah diet, which recommends a diet of 85% raw food and 15% cooked. The article cites the diet’s developer arguing that cooked food has practically no nutritional value because the cooking process destroys vitamins and proteins. Daily circulation of the News Journal is 125,000 papers.
by JAMES N. KLAPTHOR
Media Relations Manager