James N. Klapthor

Hot on the heels of our Developing Foods Special Report on sugar replacers in the July issue of Food Technology, Fitness magazine penned a feature article on “The Scary Side of Sweeteners” in September, utilizing expertise provided by Stanley Segall, Drexel University, among others. To balance the scales tipped against the use of sugar substitutes by a consumer advocacy group spokesman, Segall pointed out that the amount of any one sweetener being ingested is becoming smaller. “When you have more sweeteners, they’re often mixed together, so the amount you ingest of any one chemical becomes even smaller.” Segall also responded to the claim that acesulfame potassium poses a cancer risk. “Both sweeteners (acesulfame potassium and sucralose) have better safety records than saccharin.” Segall’s clear messages earned the article’s final word. “If you don’t believe a sweetener is safe, you can always use it less, or not at all.” Fitness caters to women with active lifestyles, promoting the importance of nutrition and exercise, and reporting on fitness trends and beauty products. Its national, monthly circulation achieves more than one million copies.

Identifying Escherichia coli O157:H7 and quickly pinpointing its presence in food was the subject of the Associated Press article, “Scientists hope to develop effective E. coli sensor,” published July 14 and highlighting research by Richard Durst, Cornell University. The article detailed Durst’s efforts to develop for the past decade a sensor that claims to detect within minutes whether the E. coli strain is present on food. “This device may help prevent people from getting sick and save money as far as medical treatment goes,” said Durst. “Speed is important to try to make this a preemptive device rather than just a diagnostic one.” Michael Doyle, University of Georgia, urged patience in the device’s implementation. “If it’s not as good as the standard cultural procedure test,” he warned, “the downside is you’re going to have false negatives, which will give you a false sense of security.” The Orlando Sentinel was among the many papers that republished this article. The Sentinel circulates 360,000 papers daily. Associated Press articles are published by 1,700 newspapers and broadcast by 5,500 television and radio stations worldwide.

• A revealing study on pathogens found on ready-to-eat shrimp sent Douglas Marshall, Mississippi State University, onto the news wire. In the Scripps Howard News Service article, “Ready to eat shrimp may harbor pathogens,” published in The Cincinnati Post and else-where in August, Marshall’s comments were frank. “We found several pathogen strains we didn’t expect to find,” he said. “We got a whole host of critters that from an innocent perspective we didn’t anticipate.” Critters found on the 13 packages Marshall’s research team tested included E. coli, Staphylococcus, and Shigella. Traces of Vibrio vulnificus were also found. The article also included reference to the IFT Annual Meeting and information presented there predicting that supermarket trends toward more ready-to-eat products could lead to more instances of foodborne illness. Scripps Howard distributes news articles nationwide. The Post circulates 61,000 papers daily. The feature also appeared in news outlets in Tennessee, California, and Kentucky.

The Scripps Howard News Service also covered the ConAgra recall in August, and its use of IFT commentary fit the bill for some daily newspapers’ online sites. The Times Record of Wichita Falls, Tex., posted online the article, “Calls growing for food safety reform,” August 9. Identifying the groups that call for an overhaul to the nation’s food safety laws, the article quoted then- IFT President Phillip Nelson and his cut-and-dried reminder that pathogens are pervasive. “Half of all cattle in the country can carry E. coli O157:H& at some time in their lives. It’s in their digestive tract, it’s in their feces and it’s in their manure.” Owned by the E.W Scripps Co., the Times Record Web site is a regular outlet for Scripps Howard articles. The Birmingham (Ala.) News, is among the print outlets that published this article. The Birmingham News circulates more than 150,000 copies daily

Media Relations Manager