FoodPolitik: Sensationalist claims of ‘risk’ only benefit special interests

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Rick Berman
Executive Director, Center for Union Facts
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      Rick Berman

      Rick Berman is the President of Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C.–based public affairs firm specializing in research, communications, and creative advertising.
      Berman has founded several leading non-profit organizations which are known for their fact-based research and their aggressive communications campaigns.
      A long-time consumer advocate, Rick Berman champions individual responsibility and common sense policy. He believes that democracies require an informed public from all sides.
      Berman and Company has received dozens of national awards for its creativity and cutting edge work. In the past two years alone Berman and Company has earned over 30 awards for its work in television, print, and radio advertisements and crisis communications.
      Rick Berman has appeared on all major television networks and has organized national coalitions on a variety of issues.

Similar examples abound. CSPI defended trans fat in the 1980s, arguing “trans, schmans,” only to reverse itself and lead the crusade against trans fat a few years back.

And remember all the hype over mercury in fish? The FDA issued a 2004 advisory warning pregnant women to limit their consumption of seafood to just 2 serving per week, even of fish lower in mercury (like canned light tuna).

Since then, however, more science has emerged indicating that this advisory, to say nothing of the scare campaigns from environmentalist groups, could be counterproductive. A 2007 piece in The Lancet found that women who ate more seafood had kids with higher IQs and better social development by age 8.

In 2010, more than 100 experts signed an open letter to the FDA requesting it update its mercury/fish advisory due to the new science — and the agency is in the process of doing so.

Whether it’s physics or nutrition, science is by nature a slow and deliberative process — unlike media hype, which loves to focus on drive-by, sensationalist risk claims. That’s to the benefit of special interests, but not always consumers.

Rick Berman is President of the public affairs firm Berman and Company. He has worked extensively in the food and beverage industries for the past 30 years. To learn more, visit www.BermanCo.com.