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Irish fight food supplements media bashing

By Shane Starling , 18-Sep-2009
Last updated on 18-Sep-2009 at 13:23 GMT2009-09-18T13:23:55Z

The Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) has begun a mainstream media campaign to promote the positive role food supplements can play in the diet.

The campaign mounted by chief executive officer, Dr Alan Ruth, comes in the wake of a host of stories in the mainstream press that have questioned the value of taking various food supplements and highlighted potential dangers.

Dr Ruth has emailed mainstream health and nutrition journalists in Ireland and the UK, urging them to be more receptive to positive stories about food supplements.

“As I am sure you are aware, the industry sector I represent (and its products) get more than their fair share of negative media coverage. There is, however, a plethora of research based, positive news, on the sector's products,” he writes, adding he will send positive research for scrutiny.

Proactive

Dr Ruth told NutraIngredients.com this morning the campaign arose out of frustration at the way food supplements tend to be conveyed in the mainstream press, and the need to counter that.

“It is my view that the industry needs to be more proactive in highlighting the many positive stories that are there about this industry,” he said.

The IHTA campaign comes in a period where several stories in the UK press have quoted academics criticising food supplements.

In his role as CEO of the IHTA Ruth had written to UK newspapers The Guardian and The Daily Mail, defending industry against what he called “biased reporting.”

While he gained little response from the newspapers his contact with two of the academics – Professor Leslie Regan and Professor Sue Fairweather-Tait – indicated they were unhappy with the way their views had been represented in the papers.

Professor Brian Ratcliffe, whose comments made at the British Science Festival that food supplements are a waste of time, told this publication he was misquoted when talking about the potential negative impacts of over-cnsuming vitamin D when used with fish oils.

He said he referred to fish liver oils, an important distinction because fish oil is low in vitamin D; fish liver oil, high in vitamin D.

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