Regulating how much a banana is curved, and how big a cucumber can be, sounds like a crazy proposition. And that’s exactly why myths about such proposals have taken off in the European Union.
There’s even a name for it, Euromyth, which according to Wikipedia is“used to refer to exaggerated or invented stories about the European Union and the activities of its institutions, such as purportedly nonsensical EU legislation.”
As it turns out, fake news is even impacting the food industry these days.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, a member of the EU Commission in charge of Health and Food Safety, recently addressed the topic at Food Fest 2019.
“I have witnessed a number of fake news in the area of food so many times over the past years. Some of it — such as EU is regulating on the size of cucumbers — is honestly laughable,” Andriukaitis said. “But some of it can seriously damage citizen’s trust in food system and science in general.”
He tied it into the anti-vaxxer movement, which encourages people to avoid vaccinations for themselves or their children for various reasons.
“Misinformation has far-reaching effects: look no further than the measles outbreaks over the last few years due to the fact that people lost trust in vaccines,” Andriukaitis said.
And he compelled journalists to combat the rise in fake news.
"Our citizens deserve to know that the information they receive on food, which touches their lives literally every day, is based on true and sound scientific evidence" Andriukaitis said. “We owe it to them.”
Fake news most notably has the potential to impact the effect of a recall. If people can’t or won’t trust the media, they may not listen when they find out 50,000 chocolate bars are being recalled because of the potential for a foodborne illness — and that can lead to death.
But even more imminent is the fake news that often surrounds topics such as GMOs, artificial colors and flavors, and sweeteners. Consumers see sensational stories that demonize many of these things and then start shopping accordingly, regardless of how true those stories are.
Obviously, Candy Industry Magazine, and all BNP Media publications, only report news that’s been verified and well sourced.
But unfortunately there is only so much writers can do — a lot of the work falls on readers these days. After all, it’s consumers who need to learn how to filter through all the news they see coming across their Facebook feeds and Twitter pages, where every source is treated equally.
Readers need to be diligent not just in deciding which websites to trust but also which stories to share with their friends and followers online.
In the age of social media, we are all publishers, so make sure you’re sourcing your content just as well as you’d like us to source ours.