WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute stressed repeatedly during the "Dateline NBC" report last week that the dating of products in supermarkets is a voluntary practice and that cooking meat and seafood to the proper temperatures kills bacteria, but several supermarket sources said they were disappointed in FMI's performance in the program.
at supermarkets had something to hide.
Twice during the show, Jill Hollingsworth, vice president, food-safety programs, FMI, appeared to give evasive answers to repeated questions from NBC reporter John Larson.
But Karen Brown, vice president, consumer affairs, FMI, said the interview with Hollingsworth was made to look bad by Dateline.
"They chose to take out of a half-hour interview those parts that make the industry look bad because that's what they wanted the story to portray," she said, describing the program as "tabloid television" whose "goal is to sensationalize and shock."
She said the show implied that Hollingsworth did not answer questions when in fact she did, and that some of her statements were taken out of context. In addition, she criticized the program for what she said were false statements about the killing of bacteria through cooking.
"Their scientific expert claimed that some bacteria is not killed when it is cooked, and that is absolutely untrue," she said. "If you cook a product to 160 degrees, you will kill all the harmful bacteria."
Caryn Mautner, spokeswoman, Dateline NBC, said the program "was vetted by top producers and our legal and standards team," and the station stands by all the information presented.
Brown said the overall tone of the interview with Hollingsworth was "hostile."
"They kept interrupting her, and they were very disrespectful in the way they addressed her," Brown said.
During the interview, Brown could be heard off camera telling Hollingsworth not to answer Larson's question about why some stores appeared to re-date their meat products for several days past their original sell-by dates.
"We set out the parameters of what the interview would be because that's the standard operating procedure about how you deal with that kind of a program," Brown said. "They broke the agreement in numerous ways."