Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Institute of Medicine lifts salt report embargo early after apparent Washington Post break

with one comment

The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) lifted an embargo early this morning on a report calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a stronger stance on regulating salt in food.

In an email sent to reporters at 8:45 a.m. Eastern, the IOM said:

Due to an embargo break, the embargo has been lifted on the Institute of Medicine’s new report, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intakes in the United States.  The report is attached and the news release is pasted below.

The report was scheduled to be released to reporters at 10 a.m. today, embargoed until 12:01 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

After a tip from an Embargo Watch reader, I had sent an email to the IOM press office this morning at 8:29 Eastern, including a link to the Post story and this quote from it:

But in a study to be released Wednesday, an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine concludes that those measures have failed. The panel will recommend that the government take action, according to sources familiar with the findings.

I asked whether this would be considered a break. I haven’t heard back, but the 8:45 email may have been their answer.

Important to note: When the Post story was published last night, the study hadn’t yet been released to reporters, which has significant implications for whether this alleged break could lead to sanctions against the paper.

As I mentioned in my post about the Science hominin study, to which this situation at first glance seems similar, deciding whether something is an embargo violation is a separate call from deciding whether to lift the embargo early. The IOM made what I think is the right call here on the latter; Science didn’t. One is a public agency; the other is a publisher, albeit non-profit.

Update, 2:40 p.m. Eastern, April 20, 2010: The FDA has issued a statement on the IOM report, saying in part that the Post story:

leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor have they made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.

Update, 3:45 p.m. Eastern, April 20, 2010: Lyndsey Layton, the Post reporter who wrote the story, declined my email request for comment.

Will update if I hear more.

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 20, 2010 at 11:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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One Response

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  1. I guess the question will be: did breaking the embargo change the story or did the WaPo reporter just get it wrong?

    Larry Husten

    April 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm


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