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

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.