8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Trust Yahoo! Health?

January 16, 2015

Ms. Michele Promaulayko

Editor in Chief

Yahoo! HealthYahoo! Health


Dear Ms. Promaulayko,

This morning on Yahoo! Health I was surprised to read the headline, 8 Reasons You Should Never Order the Salmon. I was interested to find out what science might be behind this hyperbolic headline, until I realized that this does not appear to be an article produced and written by Yahoo! Health but an advertisement of some sort for a fad diet booked titled Zero Belly Diet, despite the fact that nowhere on your page does it say this is an advertisement or that space for this article has been provided via a financial agreement.

It concerns me that Yahoo! Health would allow for such a blatant violation of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics: Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

Whats more, even as a paid placement the content is shockingly inaccurate and serves to not only diminish the credibility of Yahoo! Health but ultimately call into question the sites very editorial oversight.

The piece concocts an outlandish scenario where salmon are being dyed a particular color based on a painters color chart, rather than simply eating carotenoids. This is not only false it has been investigated and refuted by the likes of Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the venerable CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. In response to accusations that suggest salmon are being artificially dyed Dr. Gupta says:

Its not accurate to call these artificial dyes. I think people conjure up this image of the farm salmon being injected with something that causes it to turn that pink color. Thats not whats happening here. Its a much more natural occurring process where the farmed salmon eat a type of food that causes a reaction in the body, just like the wild salmon does, and that causes that more pinkish color.

Later the report you promote suggests salmon is lacking critical vitamins. Again, this is unsubstantiated rhetoric that is contradicted by not only the current state of medical and nutrition research but by your own peer media who have reported on this topic. Reading through independent, published, peer-reviewed research, like the kind found here in the Annuls of Internal Medicine and the subsequent reporting on those findings in the New York Times, makes an embarrassing mockery of the advertorial content found on your site this morning.

While I dont plan to highlight every erroneous statement contained in this piece, I will note one more component of misreporting that may help you understand how ridiculous much of the content is. Not only does the report link to a discredited diatribe about tilapia and bacon, it also suggests that salmon contains dangerous levels of PCBs. Dr. Guptas report puts that fallacy to rest when he reports, the levels are so low, its almost a drop in the bucket. The fact is PCBs from all fish make up 9% of the PCBs found in the American diet, while vegetables make up 20%. Would Yahoo! Health endorse an article that suggests Americans should never order the vegetables?

As content created by some sort of revenue generating agreement this report should be labeled as an advertisement. If it is your contention that this piece is in fact Yahoo! Health-edited journalism, I asked that it be submitted for immediate internal editorial review and your findings be publicly posted.

Please let us know how you intend to addresses this issue.

Thank you.

Gavin Gibbons

Vice President, Communications

National Fisheries Institute

cc: Ms. Molly Shea

Assistant Editor

Yahoo! Health

Yahoo! Health