Dirty tricks

Maybe they fall into the categories of suppression of information or dissemination of misinformation, but we prefer to call them dirty tricks.  We think of suppression of information and dissemination of misinformation as being aimed at the general public.  We take dirty tricks personally.

In October, 1994, the Truth in Labeling Campaign (TLC) was formed to promote truth in labeling, with its first project being full and clear labeling of MSG. In August, 1995 TLC sued the FDA and announced plans for fund raising.

In October, 1995, the Washington Post ran a story about the Truth in Food Labeling Campaign—an organization formed by Public Voice for Food and Health Policy and the National Consumers League for the purpose of raising funds to combat the use of mechanically separated poultry (MSP). It seemed like an innocent coincidence–until the sponsors refused to reveal the source of the grant money given to them to set up the Truth in Food Labeling Campaign, or to elaborate on projects that had been planned for the future.

In an effort to generate publicity, TLC contracted with Bacons Communications to send out press releases announcing the suit filed against the FDA. Bacons provides clipping services, mailing services, and media directories. They have offices in Chicago, Illinois. On the day following the day the releases were to go out, TLC began getting inquiries about incomplete information that had been received by fax--often a cover page, only. After receiving several such inquiries we asked Bacons what was going on, and it was ascertained that Bacons had held the releases, sending them out the day after the suit was filed, making them non newsworthy. During discussion, it became clear that the error was not due to a misunderstanding of instructions or to equipment breakdown.

In 1994, Adrienne Samuels attended an Institute for Food Technologist (IFT) Short Course "Allergies and other Adverse Reactions to Foods, Additives and Ingredients" sponsored by the IFT, The Food Allergy Center, and the University of Nebraska Food Processing Center. Presenters were Altman; Betty P. Rauch, M.B.A., Allerx Inc.; Daniel J. Skrypec, Ph.D. Kraft General Foods; and Sean F. Altekruse, D.V.M., M.P.H., FDA. According to Altman, who said what little was said about MSG, presenters had been told that Adrienne would be in the audience. It was only after the presentation was over that Adrienne discovered that prior to the presentation, Altman had given the press a manuscript that was replete with misinformation about the safety of MSG; while in her limited oral presentation, Altman had said nothing that Adrienne might question in public.