andrew schneider investigates

February 5, 2008

Why start this blog? or Don’t I have enough to do already?

Filed under: Diacetyl,Food Safety,Pesticides,Worker Safety — Andrew Schneider @ 10:00

The type of investigative reporting that I do often takes months to complete � first to learn how much I don’t know, then to figure out what to look for and then to find it. It takes scores of interviews and sometimes several thousand pages of documents and I love it.

But often after the intricate puzzle is complete, there is a pile of pieces left � interesting bits of information that further explain what we found, or how we did it, or the background on the people I wrote about.

I’m hoping this blog will allow me to share some of this information, and some of the reactions to the stories.

We heard from scores of home and professional cooks, from Seattle to Brussels to Brazil, after we published the story in December on diacetyl, the lung-destroying chemical butter flavoring. Laboratory analysis that the P-I commissioned found that diacetyl was released when almost two dozen popular brands of margarines, cooking oils, sprays and butters were heated. Many readers had questions, dozens had suggestions on how to avoid the potentially harmful vapors. Some offered information on how to find an occupational medicine specialist that understand the disease caused by diacetyl. It would have been nice to share some of this information.

It’s not just the mega investigative stories that generate comments and questions. Hundreds of calls and emails came in after the P-I’s story on Alex Lu’s study on pesticides and fresh produce and what happened when the kids on Mercer Island switch from conventional to organic food. There were lots of questions and most of them deserved answers. And there were some very smart people and organizations offering some of the answers.

I hope this blog will permit this exchange of information. It may also be the place to publish comments like those from Dow Chemical Co., a pesticide scientist and a couple of apple growers who said we did a disservice to our readers by publishing Lu’s peer-reviewed study.

Not everything will be published. We follow the same rules that the PI demands: no personal attacks, no libel, no unnamed sources without either documents or personal observations to corroborate it.

My hope is that “SECRET INGREDIENTS” will show you that we expect to be held accountable and that the information highway goes both ways. We write for you. You tell us what you know and what you want to know.



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