James N. Klapthor

Once enjoyed by Brits alone, meat-free meals of the brand name Quorn, made from mycoprotein, have made their way across the Atlantic Ocean, past the East Coast–based news wire services, and are now the interest of science and health reporters in southern California. And Roger Clemens, University of Southern California, was at-the-ready when KABC-TV wanted the skinny on the meat alternative and the properties it brings to consumers. During the September 27 afternoon news, Clemens described to viewers how mycoprotein is made and added to meal-time entrees. This ABC network affiliate is the number-one news station in the Los Angeles market during the 4, 5, and 6 o’clock hours. The estimated audience for this 4 o’clock segment is 350,000.

• Carl Winter, University of California at Davis, has become a “go-to” source for print media scouring for information regarding acrylamide, having provided the Associated Press, Newsday, and San Francisco Chronicle with expert opinion since the toxicant made headlines worldwide last April. Most recently, Winter  old USA Today readers that it is almost impossible to extrapolate the possible cancer risk to humans who eat French fries, potato chips, and similar foods found to contain concentrations of acrylamide. When animals are fed acrylamide in experiments, Winter pointed out, they are given “massive exposures over long  periods of time.” Based on those studies, it’s almost impossible to extrapolate the possible risk to humans who have much lower levels of exposure, he said. Winter contends that poor eating habits are a bigger health concern. “We can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. We could do better with our diets whether we are fearing acrylamide or not.” USA Today is the most widely disseminated national newspaper, circulating 1.6 million papers each weekday.

Irradiation improves the shelf life of some foods, and now there’s proof that irradiation can extend the life expectancy of a news story. Christine Bruhn’s comments published in the irradiation article “Zapping public fear” in the Chicago Tribune in May and the Philadelphia Inquirer in June—and mentioned in the August IFT Newsmakers column—were republished in part in the Tribune Co.–owned South Florida Sun-Sentinel on September 26. “Many household items, like Band-Aids and pharmaceuticals, have been irradiated with gamma rays,” said Bruhn, University of California at Davis. “In my educational programs, I emphasize that irradiation is safe in all forms.” IFT President Mark McLellan, Texas A&M University at College Station, was also referenced as an advocate for the electron-beam irradiation process, in the original Tribune article and the Sun-Sentinel version. The Sun-Sentinel is the second-most-read daily newspaper in the Miami area, circulating 240,000 copies.

The day after Bruhn’s comments made the Sun-Sentinel, WebMD featured insight by Bruhn in the online feature, “USDA Says What Is and Isn’t Organic,” posted September 27. Less than one month before new organic standards were enacted by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, WebMD prominently referenced research by Bruhn showing that 60% of consumers believe that organic foods are safer, more nutritious, and better for the environment than their standard-grown counterparts. “A particular chemical can be approved for organic if it is derived from a natural source,” said Bruhn, “That same chemical, when derived from a laboratory, is not approved. So how can one say that one is better for the environment than the other if the chemical is the same?” she argued. Bruhn described the term “organic” as merely a philosophy of growing something in partnership with nature, adding that the new organic rule is good news for people who want to support that viewpoint. WebMD is among the most popular Web sites for physicians and the general public seeking healthcare information.

Media Relations Manager