Monday, 9 November 2009

Fancy a cuppa with that press release?

On Saturday, the Express front page was a typically inept, news-free zone and even included the word 'TAT' spelt out down the left hand side. How very appropriate.

The main headline was yet another health story and revealed new research that caffeine is good for you and you should be able to devour eight cups of tea or four cups of coffee per day without any adverse reaction. Unless, of course, it's piping hot, in which case you might get cancer. The Express noted:

The research even suggested that people who cut out tea and coffee from their diet in a bid to be healthy may be doing more harm than good.

The story also appeared in the Mail and Telegraph.

The research was conducted by Dr Carrie Ruxton. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because she was behind research reported in May 2009 that Three cups of tea a day 'can cut heart attack risk by 70%'.

A few months before that - in February - she popped up to claim traditional tea was as good for your heart as green tea.

In December 2008 she was saying tea stopped tooth decay. Two months earlier her research claimed that Four daily cups of tea 'prevents heart attacks'. In February 2008 she was pushing the 'cognitive and performance-related benefits' of tea.

In May 2007 she was suggesting tea is healthier than water. The same conclusion as she reached in August 2006, when she was advising everyone to drink three cups of (guess what?) tea per day.

All of which smacks of dismally lazy churnalism.

And yet, who is Dr Carrie Ruxton? Who is this 'expert' who keeps popping up in the newspapers to tell us how great tea is?

Coincidentally, she's a member of the Tea Advisory Panel. The what?

The Tea Advisory Panel is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the UK Tea Council, the trade association for the UK tea industry.

Hmm. And the UK Tea Council?

an independent non-profit making body dedicated to promoting tea & its unique story for the benefit of those who produce, sell & enjoy tea.

So the body dedicated to promoting tea gives grants to a panel which comes out with research about the enormous benefits of drinking tea. Imagine that.

And certain newspapers then receive a press release with those findings in and publish them without question.

Is this what Peter Hill thinks is the 'vastly improved standards of writing' at the Express?


  1. Sounds very similar to the background of a lot of damning obesity studies, which are almost always funded by diet companies. is a good article, though it can relate to almost any fluffy research project!

  2. Glad to see you are paying attention to my research. You may also like to know that besides being a member of the Tea Advisory Panel, I am a freelance dietitian who works with lots of different organisations in the private and public sectors and have published on a wide range of other nutrition topics. So there is no conspiracy I'm afraid!

  3. Carrie - Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not really paying attention to your research and I wish the newspapers wouldn't either.

    I'm afraid your other work does not prove 'no conspiracy'.

    You are a member of a Panel which is funded by the Tea Council, whose aim is to promote tea and its benefits. And you keep getting quoted in press release-inspired articles promoting tea and its benefits.

    That's a mighty big coincidence.

  4. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm convinced.


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