The Great Natto Diet turns into the Great Natto Scandal
Following up on the Great Natto Diet story:
- The producers of the show Aru Aru Daijiten II commited several serious faux pas: falsifying data; presenting made-up data for tests that were never conducted; and, what I find the most amusing yet outrageous of all, showing an American university professor on screen then superimposing made up subtitles that had nothing to do with what he was actually saying. (Here is a YouTube video of the official on-air apology (in Japanese of course). The man speaking is just an announcer, not a station official. Here's a news report (Japanese again) of the press conference where the officials issued their apology.)
- This story was front page news and a top story on national media outlets in Japan on Saturday. Like the Celebrity Big Brother thing in the U.K. last week it's the Scandal of the moment. It's made the international media too.
- The program was produced by Kansai TV (KTV), a local television station and Fuji Television affiliate in Osaka, and broadcast nationwide by Fuji TV (which was also the network that carried the original Iron Chef...which is sort of ironic, maybe).
- The program was pulled off its usual broadcast slot on Saturday evening. It remains to be seen if it will ever get back on to the air. (It was a very popular show...as the influence it had by causing a mad rush on natto shows.)
- Its sole sponsor, Kao, has pulled its sponsorship.
- Natto manufacturers may lose hundreds of thousands of yen in revenue because of cancelled orders. Natto has a short shelf life of about a week, and makers had stepped up production to try to meet the increased demand.
It sort of seems that the program producers went about creating this particular episode with the best of intentions, and based on actual studies about DHEA and isoflavons. But perhaps in a rush to get the show out by a deadline or sheer sloppiness (we may eventually find out, as this whole mess is being investigated by the Japanese government now) they really messed it up, to put it mildly.
One of the sad things that may arise from this is that some people get the mistaken impression that natto is a worthless food. It's certainly not, and as I have written earlier if you can get to like it it's a terrifically nutritous food. Just not a miracle diet food.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is never to take media reports on food and nutrition at face value; do the research, question everything, and make your own educated decisions.