James N . Klapthor

The coming year is full of opportunity to garner media attention for the Institute of Food Technologists. A forthcoming Expert Report on the application of antimicrobials in food production, an enhanced technical program at the Annual Meeting in Orlando, and popular trend data and health and medicine news that has regularly provided high-profile exposure in this publication will give our organization plenty of credible, insightful food information to speak about with news media.

A simple look back to 2005 proves that the foundation for success is well laid.

Hot on the heels of the 2005 IFT Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO®, nearly 50 original articles focused on topics dissected during the meeting were published by more than 100 news outlets, including the Associated Press and Reuters news wires and WebMD.com. The subject of those articles ranged from bioterrorism security to fast-food nutrition to sodium reduction during processing to engineering functional food.

On the opposite end of the media coverage spectrum was the February 2005 release of IFT’s Functional Foods Expert Report. Coverage of the report was suspended briefly as health, medicine, and science reporters from the major news outlets were all assigned coverage of the Terri Schiavo right-to-life case that riveted news outlets’ consciousness on the state of Florida. So while coverage of the IFT report was slim that month, momentum was gained in March. And by April, when the Associated Press released its feature coverage of the report, more than 200 news outlets had covered IFT’s most recent premier science report in more than two dozen original articles. The combined circulation of those outlets’ counted in the millions. Within three months of its release, the Functional Foods Expert Report had received 2,300 online visitors at its www.ift.org Web page.

Food Technology content was also a hit in 2005. Hyper hydration among weekend-warrior athletes, as published in the Food, Medicine & Health column, played in English-language media on the other side of the globe, clicking with news outlets in India, Australia, and the UK, as well as domestically. Similarly, the column’s attention to detoxifying diets was relayed to news audiences in those countries and others, as delivered by Reuters news wire, the British Broadcasting Corp.’s www.bbc.com Web site, and others. The column has become so popular that seven months after the original detox article appeared in May, the December 2005 issue of Allure magazine shared the information with its one million readers.

Also in 2005, the popular food trend data appearing regularly in Food Technology made the Taste section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and was also published in The Denver Post, each among the largest 25 daily newspapers in America. WebMD.com, one of the nation’s most popular health Web sites, receiving approximately 20 million visitors monthly, also published its own coverage of Food Technology trend stories. The Detroit News and its affiliated Web site www.detnews.com republished Food Technology’s Top 10 Trends for 2005. Even the broadcast outlet WMAQ-TV, NBC’s affiliate in Chicago, reported on this cover story. WMAQ-TV is the second-highest rated station in America’s third-largest television market.

The list of IFT Food Science Communicators who are not only actively speaking with news media but also proactively addressing topics identified by reporters, editors, and broadcast and online producers is too long to detail in this column. However, the regular and repeated efforts of many of these members and others to gain insightful coverage of the scientific perspective on food is worthy of mention. Those who showed extraordinary dedication to answering journalists’ queries over the past year include Communicators Fergus Clydesdale, Roger Clemens, Mary Ellen Camire, Michael Doyle, Mark Kantor, Manfred Kroger, Joanne Slavin, and Barry Swanson and members Gilbert Leveille, Peter Pressman, and IFT Past President Herbert Stone.

With these and other talented and dedicated members, the tremendous knowledge resources of IFT, and diligent, professional media relations efforts, it is scientifically sound to expect another year of media success for IFT.

by James N. Klapthor,
Media Relations Manager
[email protected]