“A closed mouth gathers no foot.” I learned that sage advice from a respected mentor. That . . . or I read it in a fortune cookie. Regardless, I've taken those words of wisdom to heart. Simply put, it's best to either keep information to yourself, or give serious thought to unintended messages that may be conveyed.

Those who communicate food research and industry news might want to keep such in mind when discussing practices and ingredients common to the industry. More than your target audience is likely to see your press release or quote. Often, these people will not be knowledgeable about the methods and practices common to the industry or understand critical, but unspoken, benefits. This came to light recently, when I happened across a release on the Internet mentioning a study being done to boost protein for poor communities. Apparently, the Technological Institute of Celaya, in Mexico, discovered minced mealworm larvae provide a boost of protein when added to wheat tortillas.

I've been around this industry long enough to know there are some things the mass public does not want to hear — and a certain way such information should not be conveyed. The challenge is to find a subtle way to address those topics, informing with audience sensitivities in mind.

The importance of precision came to light recently when a reader questioned statistics in our January functional foods article, "A Function of Health," based on a Mintel report. He felt the sales figures were too conservative. A call to Mintel provided a simple explanation that had more to do with definitions than data. Our reader's sales figures were based on broad category definitions for functional foods, while our article noted that the numbers were based strictly on products making a specific, written health claim. Category definitions for functional foods and nutraceuticals have particularly plagued the industry.

Communicating effectively (especially about food, a subject some regard with almost religious zeal) is, at times, a difficult task and involves more than stating the facts. It means presenting reasoned, well-thought-out ideas in a straightforward, clear manner. Simply put, be aware of what you say, and how it is said. Think of how it sounds to your intended audience, as well as to those who may have adversarial agendas. Now excuse me while I try to convince myself that it's okay to eat tortillas again.

Internet Information

For more information on subjects covered in this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

Market Trends—Breakfast Cereals
www.scisoc.org/aacc/ — American Assoc. of Cereal Chemists
www.crnusa.org — Council for Responsible Nutrition

Formulating with Organics
— The National List, USDA's list of approved organic ingredients
www.ams.usda.gov/nop — National Organic Program
www.omri.org — Organic Materials Review Institute

Stews with Savory Flavors
FAQ: Natural Flavorings on Meat and Poultry Labels - Food Safety and Inspection Service
www.ohly.de/sommer.htm — Yeast extracts:
production, properties and components

A Lexicon on Lipids
www.supplementwatch.com — Online “encyclopedia” of supplements with claims and supporting theories.
www.eatright.org/pr/1999/0921f.html — American Dietetic Assoc. press release with information on DHA
www.crnusa.org/Shellnr071101.html — Council for Responsible Nutrition page on global standards

Bone Health Benefits
www.nof.org — National Osteoporosis Foundation
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/osteoporosis.html — National Library of Medicine, osteoporosis links
www.osteo.org — National Institutes of Health, Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease
www.osteofound.org — International Osteoporosis Foundation
www.fore.org — Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education

Six Years of Articles Online
www.PreparedFoods.com — Articles are searchable by a keyword on Prepared Foods' homepage