I have always been deeply suspicious of advertorials – what appear to be editorial pieces lauding a specific product that are actually paid for and written by [or for] the maker of the product. They seem to me to be very misleading – suggesting by implication that an independent source is reviewing the product when in fact the reviewer is in the pay of the advertiser.
This is dodgy enough when you are dealing with a barbecue or garden furniture, but very much dodgy-er if you are dealing with a health related product where the reader maybe vulnerable because they are ill and in need of help, and where the product, if it does not suit them, may actually do them harm. (For the record, FoodsMatter, in either its printed or online format, has never accepted advertorials of any kind.)
I have also always been deeply suspicious of Flora and the whole ‘lower your cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack’ campaign. (For at least some of the reasons why read the report of Professor Michel de Lorgeril’s presentation at a BSEM conference last year.)
So I was delighted, and somewhat amused, to see that Dr John Briffa, who has far better credentials for being sceptical about any medical procedure than I have, and who is equally unconvinced by the whole cholesterol argument, has been having a lengthy ‘dingdong’ with Flora’s public relations agency. His objection is to an advertorial in the Daily Telegraph claiming that a ‘journalist’ (who appears not only not to be a journalist, but not to exist at all…) had dramatically reduced her cholesterol levels (and therefore, by implication, her risk of heart attack) by eating Flora.
If you would like to read more of Dr Briffa’s excellent demolition job – follow the saga (and read the links) on his blog.