In March, news media in Washington, D.C., picked up on recent government statistics showing that Salmonella contamination in poultry has been steadily increasing during the past five years. While these figures did not mirror the number of reported instances of human illness from Salmonella contamination—a figure that has actually fallen slightly over much of the same period—the tone of the coverage could be interpreted as making that connection.
Comments by IFT member Mark Kantor, University of Maryland, to Scripps Howard news wire sent a clear message of encouragement. He said the falling cases of Salmonella illness could be attributed to cooks receiving and retaining the government’s message to properly handle raw meats and to cook poultry to a safe internal temperature. "What possible explanation could there be but that the education message is getting through?" he said. Kantor also qualified the scope of any endeavor to eliminate Salmonella from poultry products, remarking that it is naturally present in birds and difficult to eliminate.
Scripps Howard is a national news wire distributing articles nationwide and to the family of Scripps Howard news outlets that includes newspapers and television stations in Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and elsewhere.
The same month, IFT member Beth Kunkle, Clemson University, scored big with the closing comment in Chicago’s Red Eye newspaper, a weekday tabloid newspaper offered by the Tribune Co. as an alternative to its flagship paper. In the article "Good card, bad carb diets don’t work," Kunkle told readers that even though dietitians haven’t come to a consensus on the validity of using glycemic index as the foundation for a diet plan, don’t rule out what the future may hold. "To just reject it out of hand and quit working on it would be a mistake," she said. "I just think we’re five to 10 years away from really understanding it from a research viewpoint." Red Eye circulates 60,000 papers a day within the Chicago metropolitan area.
One week later, Life magazine embraced and redistributed data offered early this year by Food Technology. The center spread of the March 10 issue of Life read, "1 out of 5 restaurant meals is purchased from a car," and the "No. 1 breakfast item: Coffee," both attributed to IFT. As icing on the cake, IFT member Christine Bruhn, University of California at Davis, was noted commenting on the increasing interest and consumption of Thai food. Crediting its variety of vegetables, flavors, and non-fried options as fine fare in today’s trans fat–free world, Bruhn declared, "What could be more appealing?"
Life is a weekly supplement to the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, Los Angeles Times, Boston Herald, and many other newspapers. Its weekly circulation currently stands at 12 million.
Newspapers are not the only form of media that have snatched up IFT expert opinion on matters of food. Nick Jr. Family magazine, a by-product of cable television’s Nickelodeon Channel owned by Viacom, delivered to its target audience in the February issue the low-down on whole grains. Benefiting from its commentary by IFT members Joanne Slavin, University of Minnesota, and Marilyn Swanson, Baylor College of Medicine, the article before Nick Jr. Family’s 1.1 million readers delivered great insight. "There’s strong evidence that whole grain consumption, even just an ounce a day, can protect against heart disease, certain cancers, and possibly diabetes," said Slavin. "These diseases are rooted in childhood, so the earlier kids eat whole grains, the more protection they get," she said. "If (the product has) at least two grams of fiber per slice of bread, or at least three grams per serving of cereal or per ounce of crackers, then the product probably contains a decent level of whole grain," Swanson shared.
And the stir over toxins in fish and the healthiness of eating tuna and salmon and other fish is working its way through the fitness world, a group with individuals who can obsess over their nutrition while at the same time accept logical answers to complicated questions. In Runner’s World in February, Charles Santerre, Purdue University, supplied sound information in simple terms. "The jury is still out on mercury, and its mere presence in the body doesn’t mean you will necessarily get sick from it."
In an attempt to put scientific data in context, Santerre illustrated the tradeoff between eating omega-3 rich salmon that may be contaminated with low levels of PCBs. "If 100,000 people were to eat eight ounces of salmon every week for 70 years, we could predict one person would get cancer from PCBs. Compare that to the thousands [of people] who would survive heart attacks if they ate more fish." Runner’s World circulates more than 600,000 magazines monthly.
by James N. Klapthor,
Media Relations Manager