Article Revised: March 26, 2019
The headline shrieks across the entire page: CDC finds rocket-fuel chemical in baby formula. But upon reading of the article one finds very little to worry about. Consider the following items mentioned in the body of the article:
- The chemical in question can occur naturally
- No tests have ever shown the chemical caused health problems
- The extent of the risk is hard to assess
- The FDA has not recommended that people alter their diet or eating habits because of the chemical
- The study’s author stated “This wasn’t a study of health effects”
- Only a few samples were studied
- An industry spokesperson stated “This study provides no data on potential health effects” of the chemical
- The EPA has checked nearly 4,000 public water supplies, none exceed current limits.
If we judge the quality of a headline by the accuracy of its description of the story, this headline has to get a failing score.