James N. Klapthor

The ability of IFT Food Science Communicators to distill important scientific information and provide it in easily digested formats for reporters and ultimately the consuming public is key to the creation of repeated requests from news media for more information. This was evident in March, when Men’s Health magazine utilized food science information provided by Mark Kantor, University of Maryland, and Mary Ellen Camire, University of Maine.

In a question-and-answer article with readers, Kantor reassured those who don’t like the taste of water that it’s fine to get their fill of liquids from other sources. He urged them to think “fluids”—not specifically “water”—when tracking how much they drink. In a separate article on the topic of health living, Camire urged those who can’t or refuse to eat fish to get their important omega-3 fatty acids elsewhere. “If you don’t like fish or don’t get to eat it, fish oil supplements are just as good,” she said. The article noted the importance of choosing a supplement with a safe expiration date, and one that contains vitamin E, which will keep the oil from turning rancid. Men’s Health distributes 1.6 million magazines monthly.

This repetitive connection between high-circulation print media and IFT food science was also evident in February in USA Today, one of the nation’s most-recognized daily newspapers and the most read. Quoting Charles Santerre, Purdue University, in the article, “FDA Fish Warning Criticized,” a report was referenced noting that 60,000 fetuses are at risk of mercury poisoning due to expectant mothers consuming some sport fish. While this cause for concern is legitimate, Santerre reminded readers that nutrients in fish, like omega-3 fatty acids, are key to fetal development. His summation was insightful: “Not all fish are created equal,” he said, noting low levels of mercury in farm-raised fish such as trout and catfish. In July 2001, USA Today provided news of Santerre’s research on heavy-metal levels in farm-raised fish, as published earlier that year in IFT’s Journal of Food Science. USA Today has a 1.67 million daily circulation.

The national financial publication Investor’s Business Daily sought and received information from IFT for a special feature on March 14 celebrating the innovative food technologist Clarence Birdseye. Barry Swanson, Washington State University, provided historical and human perspective for the article. “He was the first master of large-production quality frozen foods,” said Swanson of Birdseye. “Clarence tried to convince other inventors, like Edison, that he really had something that would amount to something big in the years ahead. No one believed him,” Swanson concluded. Investor’s Business Daily, with its influential niche content, boasts a circulation of 280,000.

A rapidly growing, significant regional newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, on March 6 sought out—and published—commentary by Karen Stammen, Chapman University, and Michael Doyle, University of Georgia, in the article, “Thinking Outside the Bag.” On the topic of packed lunches for school or office, the article eventually addressed food safety, and Doyle reminded readers that dairy products, eggs, cooked meats, fish, and seafood should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Possibly surprising to some Mercury News readers was his comment that “Commercial mayonnaise is safe (for packed lunches). It’s acidified and isn’t going to promote salmonella.” Stammen provided consistent reminders: Wash hands before preparing lunch, use clean surfaces, and watch sell-by dates. The Mercury News circulates 285,000 papers.

As noted in this column last month, exposure for IFT’s Expert Report on Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues was immediate and widespread, with coast-to-coast coverage the result of national news wire and news outlet interest in its content. At least five separate articles were published in major consumer newspapers, and CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, UPN, and CNN network affiliates broadcast selected conclusions of the report after its official release on February 20. To date, the Expert Report has been referenced in 200 consumer, trade, and broadcast news outlets.

Media Relations Manager