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Oprah and Expert Guests Endorse Wild Salmon
5/5/2005
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Famed doctors mitigate “O” magazine’s gross mercury-salmon mistake
by Randy Hartnell 


You may recall the article titled “Say it Ain't so, Oprah...'Cause it Ain't!,” which appeared in the April 8 edition of this newsletter.

In the article, we reproduced our letter to the editor of Oprah Winfrey’s “O” magazine, pointing out a gross factual error concerning salmon safety.

As our letter said, this innocent—but widely broadcast, highly damaging—mistake stemmed from a Web site operated by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Their Web site characterized incorrectly the mercury levels in wild Alaskan salmon, which in fact are very low.

Oprah’s TV guests correct error in Oprah magazine
Thankfully, guests on a recent episode of the Oprah’s TV show provided the right information about salmon’s safety.

Oprah’s guests were a pair of renowned medical doctors: anti-aging expert Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, MD, FACS (pictured above), a member of the surgical team that performed a quadruple heart bypass on former President Clinton. The two doctors discussed the dietary implications of their new book, titled “You, The Owners Manual.”

The doctors were very bullish on salmon, and even displayed a nice piece of what looked like wild Alaskan sockeye. Oprah said she loves salmon—which she calls “Sammy”—and was planning on having it for lunch that day.

The online counterpart of the show, which was titled “What You Should Eat Daily,” presents this excerpt:

“Dr. Roizen says you just have to remember a few great fish—tilapia, salmon, flounder, cod and mahi-mahi.  "Those are the fish that have none of the toxic chemicals, none of the PCBs, and very low content of mercury." According to Dr. Roizen, you should eat a serving of these fish three times a week.”

Her magazine’s readers having been unintentionally misled, at least Oprah’s large TV audience finally got the straight scoop!

And, when Oprah’s long time personal trainer, Bob Greene, visited Oprah’s show last week he presented a representative healthful meal of vegetables, green salad, and—you guessed it—salmon!  Salmon is also recommended in Mr. Greene’s latest book, “Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating.”

We are disappointed that “O” magazine’s editors didn’t consider our sincere and well-referenced letter worthy of a reply, but it’s good to know that Oprah herself wasn’t led astray by the misinformed editorial content of her own magazine.

The lesson here is news to no one, but offers a good reminder that content-hungry editors occasionally drop the ball, and don’t always have time or inclination to pick it up. When the result is false and misleading information, injury of some sort usually follows. Unfortunately, in this case, it may be their readers’ health. We will continue to do our best to undo such damage where we find it.

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