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Meal Planner

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Taking The Time To Get The Story Right (Part III)

Time.com has once again edited its piece on tuna. That’s two sets of corrections in two days. But we’re really at a point where the piecemeal editing and backtracking has exposed grave flaws in not only the reporting on this issue but the editorial process that went into publishing it.

With all the tweaks and rewrites associated with it Time.com appears to have lost sight of an important part of our ask of them—to take the story down. Again and again in letter after letter we have exposed misreporting and erroneous sourcing and asked them to remove it from their site so that it may undergo a private review with Time’s standards in mind--- thus far it has clearly not lived up to those standards.

Let me help Time.com and its editors, and at this point lawyers, put this to bed:

  • Time.com reports that tuna is one of the 10 most dangerous foods consumers can eat and places it alongside 8 foods that can apparently kill—including one that contains a toxin “1,200 times deadlier than cyanide” and one whose poison “can lead to coma or death.” Has Time.com’s research and extensive editorial review of this issue lead it to conclude that tuna is in fact one of the 10 most dangerous foods consumers can eat? If the answer is no it should be removed from the list immediately. Period.

Here’s a look at our latest letter to Time after it issued its second set of corrections--

February 25, 2010

Daniel Eisenberg

News Executive Editor

Time.com

VIA Email

Dear Mr. Eisenberg,

Thank you for your note and, yes, we noticed this morning that Time has “clarified” the item on tuna. But you have not addressed the most important substantive points in the letter I sent you yesterday.

The edits notwithstanding, the item remains disparaging and journalistically irresponsible in several respects. Specifically:

• The item cites tuna as one of “The top ten most dangerous foods.” This is simply false by any measure. There is not a single case in the published, peer-reviewed medical literature in this country of anyone suffering mercury toxicity from eating tuna. Cases of Scombroid, the other potential harm cited, are rare and can occur in raw fish that is mishandled, and are not a unique property of tuna, as readers are led to believe.

• The FDA’s public guidance also advises that consumers should not eliminate or curtail seafood consumption and instead recommends specific regular intake – a contrary fact that Time willfully omits.

• It is willful because, as you know, Time itself reported the public health harm that occurs from alarmist and incomplete reporting on seafood consumption. Again, the omission of these facts previously reported by the magazine demonstrate a reckless disregard for the truth.

Given that eight of the other food items on your list are potentially fatal to consumers, the seriousness of your assertions are hard to overstate. They are also an obvious commercial disparagement. Accordingly, we renew the request that you remove tuna altogether from your list of “dangerous” foods.

Otherwise we will be obliged to set the record straight publicly, including reporter Alyssa Fetini’s self-described reliance on source material from a political activist group. We will also have to pursue all legal remedies at our disposal.

I appreciate your prompt attention to the matter.

Gavin Gibbons

National Fisheries Institute

cc Maurice Edelson, General Counsel

Sora Song, Time.com Health & Medicine Editor

Richard Stengel, Time Magazine Managing Editor

INDUSTRY SCOOP

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