More news is good news

March 13, 2000

Washington, DC (March 14, 2000) - More than ever before, today's food news quotes more scientific experts and emphasizes food as a panacea, rather than a poison, according to the just-released quantitative and qualitative analysis commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. Findings from the Food For Thought III research resulted from a comprehensive examination of 1,260 diet, nutrition and food safety stories from 39 broadcast, print and online media during May, June and July 1999. The Food For Thought III data is directly comparable with two earlier Food For Thought studies conducted in 1997 and 1995.

The current analysis reveals that scientific researchers and experts were the most frequently quoted sources in food news reporting. According to Dr. Sharon Friedman, Iacocca professor and director of the Science and Environment Writing Program of Lehigh University, "The media's increased use of scientific and medical experts as sources adds to the credibility of the articles they produce. This good practice bodes well for better public knowledge about food and nutrition as long as reporters include at least several sources in the story to provide various viewpoints." The experts' high profile was paralleled by strong media interest in reporting the details of published scientific research studies.

Media interest in scientific expertise was part of an overall surge in food news that emphasized food as a friend, not a foe. Twenty-nine percent of all coverage analyzed by the research focused on the general wellness and health-boosting aspects of foodÐthe role of food in disease risk reduction, foods' functional components, and the antioxidants, vitamins/minerals, and fiber in foods. IFIC Foundation president Sylvia Rowe commented, "Consumers tell us that they respond best to positive reinforcement rather than negative messages. I am encouraged that the shift in reporting wellness and health promotion may benefit public understanding, and perhaps even encourage behavior change over time."

All three Food For Thought studies were conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a non-profit, non-partisan organization specializing in scientific studies of how media treat social and political issues. An executive summary is available via the IFIC Foundation online at http://ificinfo.health.org . A full report is available upon request from the IFIC Foundation.
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The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation's mission is to communicate science-based information on nutrition and food safety issues to health professionals, media, educators and government officials. IFIC and the IFIC Foundation are primarily supported by the food, beverage and agriculture industries.

International Food Information Council Foundation

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