NEWS: Media rapped for baby milk scare

Media coverage of the baby milk issue was a classic case of ‘bank holiday-itis’ PR advisers to the leading baby milk manufacturers said this week.

Media coverage of the baby milk issue was a classic case of ‘bank

holiday-itis’ PR advisers to the leading baby milk manufacturers said

this week.



Steve Marinker, a director at Farley’s PR agency Holmes and Marchant

Counsel, accused the media of causing ‘undue alarm’ to mothers by

‘grossly misrepresenting the story’ to fill news pages at a

traditionally quiet time of year.



The agency has been on 24- hour alert over the weekend and has so far

taken 250 calls from consumers and 35 from the media over a report by

the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The report showed the

Government had found slightly higher levels of the organic

chemicalphthalates in baby milk than normal.



Milupa’s head of corporate affairs Helen Messenger, said the issue was a

‘scare story exacerbated by the mass media’.



‘It was a very confusing situation,’ she added. ‘The media got hold of

the wrong end of the stick and the Ministry struggled to cope.’



The MAFF press office claimed that it issued the report two months ago

and the story was picked up by the Independent last weekend.



The Ministry’s senior information officer Paul Hayward denied its

decision to keep the names of the brands in the report secret had

fuelled media speculation.



‘We only name brands if there is a problem, otherwise we unnecessarily

penalise manufacturers,’ he said.



Hayward, one of three press officers who worked over the weekend, added

that blacklisting products without ‘adequate scientific evidence’ could

lead to manufacturers taking legal action against the Ministry.



Leader, p9



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