Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Unfailing, ever reliable" nutrition rating system developed by prominent experts at Yale, Harvard, other institutions quietly dropped by Big Y supermarket chain because it's "out of date"

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Via a March 2, 2015 item in HartfordBusiness.com:
In the mid-2000s, a (Griffin Hospital-based) team developed a nutrition scoring algorithm that aimed to improve upon existing nutrition labels displayed on products. In 2008, the hospital parent's for-profit subsidiary, GH Ventures, formed NuVal LLC with Illinois-based Topco Associates to market the system to supermarkets.

Today, NuVal ratings -- displayed on blue octagonal stickers -- can be found in the aisles of Big Y, Price Chopper and a number of other grocery chains.
A 2007 29-page Griffin Hospital report called the nutrition scoring algorithm, "An unfailing, ever reliable guide to better nutrition both within and across food categories."

Via Monday's Yale Daily News (my emphasis):
[New England supermarket chain] Big Y adopted NuVal, a service that assigns numerical scores to food products based on their nutritional value, six years ago as part of an effort to promote healthy eating habits. But last April the chain dropped NuVal because of concerns that its ratings algorithm was out of date.

...Claire D’Amour-Daley, chief communications officer for Big Y, told the News that the chain dropped NuVal because the algorithm is out of date and customers are increasingly able to make savvy nutritional decisions on their own.

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Via the website of NuVal LLC of Quincy, Massachusetts, here are the dozen members of the Scientific Expert Panel -- including Walter Willett MD, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health's nutrition department -- who developed the algorithm:
 
Chair: Dr. David Katz, Yale University School of Medicine
Dr. Keith Ayoob, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dr. Leonard Epstein, University of Buffalo; inventor, Traffic Light Diet
Dr. David Jenkins, University of Toronto; inventor, Glycemic Index
Dr. Francine Kaufman, UCLA; Former President, American Diabetes Association
Dr. Robert Kushner, Northwestern University
Dr. Ronald Prior, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, USDA HNRC
Dr. Rebecca Reeves, Past President, American Dietetic Association
Dr. Barbara Rolls, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Sachiko St. Jeor, University of Nevada
Dr. John Seffrin, President & CEO, American Cancer Society
Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard University

From the same page, here's NuVal LLC's current Scientific Advisory Board:

Dr. David Katz, Ex Officio, Yale University School of Medicine
Dr. Keith Ayoob, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dr. Gail Frank, California State University Long Beach
Dr. Frank Hu, Harvard University, Harvard School of Public Health
Dr. David Jenkins, University of Toronto
Dr. Rebecca Reeves, University of Texas School of Public Health

Do they think the algorithm is "out of date"? And what's their reaction to Big Y dropping the program?

That story's outside of my ken,* but seems like a newsworthy follow-up for another reporter or blogger.

Incidentally, according to the Yale article, NuVal was dropped by Big Y in April.

Via this screenshot today of from NuVal LLC's website, the company claims Big Y is still a client:


* The Yale Daily News article (for which I was interviewed) was primarily a journalism ethics story, part of which I reported in May.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Long Crawl-back Part IV: After my father lied to their readers, The Guardian publishes a re-write with a groveling editor's note

Via veteran reporter Ben Kaufman's media column in the June 8, 2016 Cincinnati CityBeat, the Queen City's longtime newsweekly:
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer story went global, aided and abetted by the Associated Press. It was perfect click bait. The story said that at 96, Cincinnatian Henry Heimlich used his Maneuver for the first time to save a life (of a purported choking victim, 87-year-old Patty Ris, at the Deupree House senior residence*).
...After Peter Heimlich alerted The Enquirer and others to a similar claim (his father had made) years ago, the paper backed away from the novelty. It assigned a second reporter to redo the story, adding and explaining doubts about the “first” in the longest crawl-back I can remember.

Peter Heimlich told me that in addition to The Enquirer and AP, “these are some of the news outlets I filed corrections requests with last week: CNN, NBC News, The New York Daily News, and WCPO-TV. At this writing, none have corrected the errors.”
This is the fourth part of a series about my corrections requests.

* Reporters at McKnight's and Slate have questioned the veracity of the Deupree House story. So have I.

#####

After I informed Guardian reporter Joanna Walters in a June 16, 2016 corrections request that she'd been punk'd by 96-year-old father, her paper published a June 28, 2016 re-write of her May 27 article with a new headline, a new lead, and this:
Last Monday [May 23, 2016] the retired chest surgeon encountered a female resident at his retirement home in Cincinnati who was choking at the dinner table.
Without hesitation, Heimlich spun her around in her chair so he could get behind her and administered several upward thrusts with a fist below the chest until the piece of meat she was choking on popped out of her throat and she could breathe again.
...“That moment was very important to me. I knew about all the lives my manoeuvre has saved over the years and I have demonstrated it so many times but here, for the first time, was someone sitting right next to me who was about to die.”
After initial reports emerged of Heimlich and his son Philip declaring this was the first time the retired surgeon had used his technique to treat someone who was choking, an account emerged of an earlier incident.

A 2003 BBC Online report quoted Heimlich talking about using the manoeuvre on a choking diner in a restaurant in 2000. Reports also appeared in the New Yorker and the Chicago Sun-Times. Interviewed again on Friday afternoon by the Guardian, the 96-year-old Heimlich said he did not recall such an incident. His son Philip also stated that he had no knowledge of his father using the technique in any prior emergency.
This is appended at the end of the re-write:


My father lied to their readers and the Guardian covers for him?

In any event, here are the other fixes.

Via the Wayback Machine's cached version of the original article:


Via the current version:


Then there's this tidbit which I tagged in my June 14 item, Mystery meat at the Deupree House -- and is my father dating the "ostensible choking victim"?


Based on my experience, plenty of good beat reporters and editors would have caught that contradiction and would try to fact-check it, so I sent the information to Joanna Walters and Guardian editor David Taylor.

The "bone in the hamburger" puzzlement is still in the current version, so presumably the Guardian gave my father -- who has been widely exposed as a charlatan and a serial liar -- the benefit of the doubt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Since January, a choking death and three near-fatal choking incidents apparently occurred at a small nursing home in Wales -- company executives aren't answering my questions, so I've asked oversight agencies to investigate

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In the course of researching a story about a choking rescue device called the LifeVac, I stumbled upon what appears to be a troubling situation at a nursing home in a small town in the south of Wales.

According to media reports, press releases, and a Facebook post last week, in less than eight months, a resident of the home choked to death and there have been three near-fatal choking incidents involving two elderly residents, the most recent of which is said to have occurred last week.

It's unclear why this spate of fatal and near-fatal episodes apparently occurred at the facility, so today I asked government agencies to investigate.


Details are murky, but according to various information sources including a Long Island, NY, newspaper, an unidentified resident choked to death this past January at the Allt-Y-Mynydd Care Home in Llanybydder, which has beds for 44 or fewer residents.

According to a UK newspaper, in late May the facility purchased a LifeVac and just days later, a registered nurse who works for the nursing home used the device to save the life of an elderly woman.

According to a LifeVac press release, days later the same elderly resident again nearly choked to death, requiring a hospitalization.

And last week, according to Help Save Lives, a London medical and training supplies company that sold the LifeVac to Allt-Y-Mynydd, yet another near-fatal choking occurred:

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In order to learn more about why so many life-threatening incidents have happened within such a short time, in recent months I've made best efforts to obtain more information from Judy Fawke, manager of the facility...

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...and from Nigel Denny, Managing Director of Ashberry Healthcare of Oxfordshire, England, Allt-Y-Mynydd's parent corporation.

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In response to multiple inquiries requesting non-confidential information about the choking incidents, neither has responded to my questions, so today I asked three government agencies to investigate.

I'll report the results in a future item.



























  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Long Crawl-back Part III: NBC reporter Elizabeth Chuck wouldn't correct factual errors in her story, so I took it to the president of NBC News and...

Via veteran reporter Ben Kaufman's media column in the June 8, 2016 Cincinnati CityBeat, the Queen City's longtime newsweekly:
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer story went global, aided and abetted by the Associated Press. It was perfect click bait. The story said that at 96, Cincinnatian Henry Heimlich used his Maneuver for the first time to save a life (of a purported choking victim, 87-year-old Patty Ris, at the Deupree House senior residence).
...After Peter Heimlich alerted The Enquirer and others to a similar claim (his father had made) years ago, the paper backed away from the novelty. It assigned a second reporter to redo the story, adding and explaining doubts about the “first” in the longest crawl-back I can remember.

Peter Heimlich told me that in addition to The Enquirer and AP, “these are some of the news outlets I filed corrections requests with last week: CNN, NBC News, The New York Daily News, and WCPO-TV. At this writing, none have corrected the errors.”
This is the third part of a series about my corrections requests regarding the lie my father told reporters.
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Here's a screenshot of factual errors in the headline and lead of a May 27, 2016 NBC News story by reporter Elizabeth Chuck:


I contacted Ms. Chuck on May 31 to fact-check some information in her story. The next day I submitted a thoroughly-documented corrections request proving that this was not the first time my father claimed he'd rescued a choking victim with his namesake maneuver.

I also explained that the story she reported had originated at the Cincinnati Enquirer and that hours after receiving my corrections request, the paper published a significant rewrite.

She then invited me to have a phone call with her. I wasn't sure what she needed from me, so I asked and she replied:
I’m trying to figure out whether it’s worth doing an entire separate story on your father, not just an amendment to the original story, and I’d love to hear from you more about whether he has a history of making claims that have later been disproven or are unproven.

Based on your blog, it seems the answer to that is yes.
I'm always interested in moving forward newsworthy stories, so I agreed and informed her that in addition to other examples of my father's career history of making false claims, reporters at McKnight's and Slate had questioned the veracity of the story she reported.

Ms. Chuck phoned me on Saturday June 11 and in a lengthy late afternoon phone call, I provided her with other examples of my father's history of fraud, including his lie claiming to have invented a surgical procedure to replace a damaged esophagus which he called "the Heimlich operation" and claimed was "the world's first total organ replacement."

I also provided her with newsworthy information about other unreported or under-reported stories about the history of the Heimlich maneuver including my father's sordid attempts to harass and damage the careers of other physicians simply because they disagreed with him.

Weeks went by and I didn't hear from her again, so I assumed she'd dropped the idea of reporting a story. I've had my time wasted by other reporters and I don't take it personally.

But she still hadn't corrected the errors in her story, so on July 2, 15, and 18, I sent her courteous e-mails requesting the status of my original request.


I received her confirmations of receipt to all of my e-mails, but no further response so I took it to Erika Masonhall in the communications department.

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I sent Ms. Masonhall two cordial inquiries and received confirmations of receipt, but no further response I took it upstairs to the office of NBC News president Deborah Turness.

Today the headline to Ms. Chuck's May 27 story was changed and a correction appended:

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Yes, my family's name is misspelled.

No, I'm not going to file another corrections request.



Monday, July 25, 2016

The Long Crawl-back, Part II: I helped re-write NY State resolution honoring my father

Via veteran reporter Ben Kaufman's media column in the June 8, 2016 Cincinnati CityBeat, the Queen City's longtime newsweekly:
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer story went global, aided and abetted by the Associated Press. It was perfect click bait. The story said that at 96, Cincinnatian Henry Heimlich used his Maneuver for the first time to save a life (of a purported choking victim, 87-year-old Patty Ris, at the Deupree House senior residence*).
...After Peter Heimlich alerted The Enquirer and others to a similar claim (his father had made) years ago, the paper backed away from the novelty. It assigned a second reporter to redo the story, adding and explaining doubts about the “first” in the longest crawl-back I can remember.

Peter Heimlich told me that in addition to The Enquirer and AP, “these are some of the news outlets I filed corrections requests with last week: CNN, NBC News, The New York Daily News, and WCPO-TV. At this writing, none have corrected the errors.”
This is the second part of a series about my corrections requests regarding the lie my father told reporters. Those reports triggered the N.Y. State resolution -- and the original version included his lie  -- hence this item.

* Reporters at McKnight's and Slate have questioned the veracity of the Deupree House story. So have I.

#####

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Honorific resolutions introduced by elected officials on behalf of prominent individuals or organizations can boomerang.

For example, state legislatures in Pennsylvania (2002) and Illinois (2003) introduced resolutions praising the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) and its founder/president, Carol Spizzirri, one of my father's gal pals. (As Sidebar readers know, SALF is now under investigation by the IL Attorney General and Spizzirri's sordid history has been the subject of numerous media reports.)

Then there's the resolution introduced to Cincinnati city council in year 2000 by my brother Phil Heimlich that declared the Queen City to be an official "City of Character." (What Phil failed to inform other members of council was that the Character program was a front for now-disgraced evangelist Bill Gothard.)

I do my best to prevent well-intentioned people from stepping in it, so when I happened across this June 16, 2016 New York State resolution with some factual errors and a problematic claim (my yellow-highlighting), I contacted the office of the official who introduced it, Buffalo-area Democratic Assemblyman Robin Schimminger.



A member of the assemblyman's staff promptly welcomed my outreach, informed me that the final version had not yet been filed, and cordially invited me to suggest any corrections.

I accepted the offer and the final version of the resolution, filed on July 1, 2016, incorporated my suggestions which I've blue-highlighted in the copy below.

Re: the first highlighted paragraph, to my knowledge, leading first aid organizations in most countries recommend first performing back blows when responding to a choking emergency; if that fails to remove the obstruction, rescuers should proceed with "the Heimlich" (abdominal thrusts).

Re: the second highlighted paragraph, click here for supporting documents.

In what I consider to be a sensible move, the revised version deleted the problematic claim that my father allegedly rescued a choking victim in 2001 at a Cincinnati's restaurant. (More about that mess via the Cincinnati Enquirer and the New York Times.)



I've done my share of copy editing, but this was a first for me, so I'm grateful to Assemblyman Schimminger and his staff for inviting me to participate.

If any other officials are considering issuing tributes to my father, please feel free to get in touch.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I'm the plaintiff in a New Jersey public records lawsuit challenging the state's residency requirement (UPDATE: 8/17/16 defendant's attorney's response to my complaint)

In response to a recent request for records I filed under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act (OPRA), a government agency (located in Mullica Hill) denied my request because I don't live in the Garden State.

As much as I love The Boss, Southside Johnny, and other great Jersey bands, I don't want to move to Asbury Park in order to access public information, so I took it to court.



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Here's what my attorney, CJ Griffin at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden in Hackensack and a member of the board of trustees at ACLU-NJ, e-mailed me when I asked her to comment:
For more than a decade, agencies have been responding to OPRA requests without ever inquiring whether the requestor was a State resident. Recently, that changed. While two courts have held that you do not need to be a resident to file an OPRA request and the issue is pending before the Appellate Division, the EIRC decided to cite the lone judge who has ruled that New Jersey citizenship is required to file an OPRA request. In doing so, they have essentially shut down access by out-of-state reporters and investigators. The Legislature surely could not have intended that only in-state media has a right to access records under OPRA, given that NJ is situated between two major media markets.

A decision that requires one to be a New Jersey resident in order to file OPRA requests is simply not enforceable and it undermines provisions of OPRA that permit anonymous requests.

While there is a single reference to records being available to ‘citizens of this state’ within OPRA’s opening declaration, repeatedly throughout the statute the Legislature made it clear that ‘any person’ may request records; ‘any person’ may inspect records; ‘any person’ may file a lawsuit for the unlawful denial of access to records. In fact, under OPRA’s predecessor law, those same provisions did say ‘any citizen,’ but in enacting OPRA the Legislature went out of its way to change every single operational provision to make it clear that ‘any person’ may utilize the statute.
UPDATE: Click here for the defendant's attorney's August 17, 2016 response to my complaint.  




H/T to John Paff for steering me to CJ.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In Wall Street Journal article about anti-choking devices, my father says "any action that delays" his namesake maneuver "can be deadly" -- plus video of my 96-year-old pa conducting the Cornell band

My brother Phil Heimlich with our father (source)

Via Can New Devices Match Heimlich to Stop Choking? LifeVac and Dechoker pose alternative to abdominal thrusts -- LifeVac and Dechoker pose alternative to abdominal thrusts by Laura Johannes, Wall Street Journal,
Two new easy-to-use devices work like plungers to suck out obstructions in the airway, providing another option if standard treatment—such as abdominal thrusts developed in 1974 by Henry Heimlich—fail to clear the airway, say the companies who sell them.

...Both the Dechoker, $89.95, and the LifeVac, $69.95, have a plastic mask that provides a seal over the mouth and nose while suction is provided. The Dechoker looks like a large syringe, while the LifeVac’s plunger is shaped like a small accordion.[Page down for graphics.]

...Skeptics include Dr. Heimlich, now 96. Such a device may not be handy in the “unexpected instance that a person chokes,” Dr. Heimlich, a retired thoracic surgeon from Cincinnati, says in a statement released by his son, Phil Heimlich. “Any action that delays use of the Heimlich maneuver or complicates the rescue can be deadly.”
Any action that delays "the Heimlich"?

Does that include backblows, chest thrusts and finger sweeps?

In any event, in recent months I've enjoyed some friendly correspondence with LifeVac inventor Arthur Lih and Christopher Kellogg, Dechoker's Chief Operating Officer, so I e-mailed them invitations to respond to my father's statement.

Mr. Lih declined. I haven't received a reply from Mr. Kellogg.

By the way, I'm pleased to learn that my father has apparently recovered from an unspecified "medical problem" which, according to my brother, recently prevented him from answering questions from a Cincinnati reporter.

Finally, apropos of nothing except that I've been wanting to blog it, here's a video of my father, accompanied by my sister Janet Heimlich and a walker, conducting the Cornell Big Red Alumni band on June 11, 2016

The performance happened about two weeks after -- according to CNN reporter David Shortell -- my father "sprang into action" in the dining room of a Cincinnati assisted living community to perform his namesake maneuver on an 87-year-old woman sitting next to him.

According to Guardian reporter Joanna Walters' story about the incident, the woman, Patty Gill Ris, claimed she had been choking on a piece of hamburger, but my father claimed it was "a piece of food with some bone in it."




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