Saturday, February 19, 2005

359 foods recalled - the online angle

Keyword: . The story that broke this week about the hundreds of food products that had to be recalled because they contained an illegal ingredient was a perfect opportunity for the use of the internet. Broadcasters unable to provide the full list on air could refer viewers to their website - and to their credit, they did.

Strangely, however, the BBC's list was in PDF format, making it inaccessible to some, as well as preventing it being searchable - although they did also link to the Food Agency's table-format HTML version. ITV simply listed all 359 products as one very ugly list - not particularly easy to browse.

The Guardian's report took the easy option of linking to the Food Agency's list, as did The Independent, The Mirror, and The Sun (whose article is illustrated by so many images that it almost qualifies as a cartoon). The Telegraph provided extra links to Pot Noodle and the statement from Premier Foods.

A little extra thought and one of those institutions could have made a searchable database of that list - creating massive traffic for their site. The Guardian did think to position the story within the wider issue of food concerns but missed the opportunity to help their readers find out if they have the affected foods (admittedly this is also something that the Food Agency should have done).

As a last note, I was particularly amused at the response from a Food Agency spokesperson to the question as to what concerned consumers should do. 'Take the food to the supermarket where they bought it', was the response. What? All of it? Every single item the person is concerned about? Give that person a pay rise.

2 Comments:

Blogger heeb said...

The problem is that we neglect those who do not have access to the internet - e.g. the elderly.

How can this be overcome?

It is interesting to note that a full list of products were not printed in the nationals ( I believe).

How can the elderly or those disconnected from the web become informed? Is this a big issue?

February 20, 2005 11:36 pm  
Blogger Paul Bradshaw said...

Some papers did print the list - or at least, BBC news on Saturday morning was telling viewers that.

But you're right, there is an issue here, which the Food Standards Agency should be criticised over. They've hardly tackled this proactively.

February 21, 2005 12:20 pm  

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