Will the food and drinks industry and the
media ever be a perfect partnership?

If not, why not? When did it all start to
go wrong?

Concern over food irradiation, a number of
food-poisoning scares in the 1980s, the ‘Eggwina Curry’ episode and the
‘Listeria Hysteria’ phenomenon were all triggers for the deteriorating
relationship. The national outcry over contaminated chicken flocks and a number of
miscarriages attributed to the consumption of soft cheese turned the media spotlight
firmly on the food industry.

The exposure of a possible link between BSE
in cattle and CJD in humans did the meat industry no favours, and, once most of the cattle
that might remotely be suspected of carrying the disease had been slaughtered, along comes
the GMO issue and the tidal wave gathers momentum.

Somewhere among these events was the
so-called McLibel affair – a global brand (McDonald’s) taking a postman and a
bartender to court to answer an accusation of libel. The case lasted 313 days in court,
involved calling 130 witnesses and included 40,000 pages of evidence. Only McDonalds can
judge whether it was worth it for them-but what was the cost to the rest of the food and
drinks industry?

The activities of Greenpeace, Friends of
the Earth and Compassion in World Farming, the influence of the Internet and the growing
consumer demand for organically grown food cannot carry the full burden of responsibility
for the failing relationship. It can equally be attributed to the increasing incidence of
food allergies, product recalls, confusing legislation, cases of contamination of food
products with foreign bodies, E Numbers, the role of Brussels and the delay in setting up

the Food Standards Agency.

The food industry in the UK is among the
best in the world. So why does it receive such negative publicity? And what does it have
to do to mend the rift?

Media Madness, a one-day conference to be
held at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in London on Friday 3rd December, will address
some of these issues. Key speakers from the broadsheet, middle market newspapers, the
Radio 4 Food Programme, the ITN News team, Greenpeace and the MAFF Press Office will
address some of the issues, and representatives from the food and drinks industry can
establish new media strategies for next year and beyond.

If you are a senior food/drinks
manufacturing or retailing manager or executive, this conference is designed for you. Can
you afford to miss it?

You can obtain full conference details from
Leatherhead Food RA, +44 (0)1372 376761 or visit our Web Site
www.lfra.co.uk and secure a discounted reservation.

By Tony Hines MBE, Conference Chairman
of Leatherhead International’s Media Madness and Crisis Management Manager

Details of reports from Leatherhead Food RA Click Here