We're a Cooking forum

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Forum GOD!
Staff member
11 Oct 2012
Local time
2:52 PM
SE Australia
The title says it all. We're a cooking forum, not a nutritional forum or a medical forum, but a cooking forum and of late, it seems that this needs to be emphasised which is a shame and I'm sorry it has come to this but, we can not have members going off and giving medical or nutritional advice. We're not medically qualified. We're not nutritionally qualified and if you were either of these, you'd only be covered to give advice within your own country and more to the point you'd actually know this. You'd also know that
  • farming practices vary around the world,
  • some soils lack rare elements others don't, (e.g. selenium)
  • nutritional requirements per nationality vary around the world,
  • some countries have laws mandating that certain products are fortified, other countries don't
and if you were qualified nutritionally or medically, you'd know the above and understand the implications of giving advice to someone in another country whose medical situation you know nothing or very little about.

So I'll emphasise this again. We are a cooking forum and I want to keep it that way. This is the only way I can protect myself, as site owner, and the other moderators from potential litigation and as a result, me subsequently closing the site.

As a guide, statements that are OK (but not ideal because they are not referenced)
Carrots are rich in nutrients. They contain antioxidants, which may help protect your cells from damage and may prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Milk is a good source of calcium

Statements that are not OK...
Carrots ... contain antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage and prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Milk is the best source of calcium

Neither statement is qualified with references (and these should be medical references, or from qualified nutritionists, peer reviewed etc, not just 'any old blog I found online') but the fundamental difference is that the bottom one implies eating carrots prevents cancer and heart disease which is not the case. To clarify, they may help prevent, but they do not prevent.... (my source Health Benefits of Carrots). The calcium and milk I just plucked out of thin air as an example.

Another example of what is or isn't OK would be that someone has a sore elbow. You may have had something similar or even "identical", but whilst you can say "my doctor diagnosed xyz and suggested taking ibuprofen for easing the pain and it worked for me", you should not be saying "that sounds like tennis elbow, you should take ibuprofen for that". You don't know it is the same condition, you don't know if that person has kidney or liver damage, you don't know if that person can even tolerate NSAIDs (and if you don't know what they are, you have just proved my point).

In the next few weeks I will be adding to the site rules a reminder about medical claims, nutritional claims, advice etc and basically saying that unless you start providing qualified, reliable references (so not a random blog that supports your personal theory) all such statements (within reason) will be deleted or unapproved (so it won't show until you edit it and provide references) or a warning message will be put above your post saying something along the lines that the member is not medically or nutritionally qualified and that this is solely their personal opinion and not necessarily that of the site.

It is not going to be easy to police. For example, some countries supplement Vitamin A & D in milk¹, e.g. UK, others do not (USA), some only mandate Vitamin D added to milk (Canada & Sweden²) others add it but it's not mandated by law (USA). So statements such as "milk is a good source of vitamin D" need to be qualified and this is where commonsense comes in to play (milk might be a good sources of calcium, but it is only a 'good' source of vitamin D in countries where it is fortified. Basically, if you can't be bothered to cite sources, don't bother posting nutritional advice. (References are given above.)

Anything medical needs statements such as "you should discuss this with your doctor", anything nutritional should include "this is the case in <insert country name> but may not be the case in your country" and so on. Again, if you can't be bothered writing this, don't post the "advice".

Yes, it is going to be unpopular initially, but we need to remember what the site is for and that is a cooking community and one where a lot of members (myself included) have specific medical problems/ intolerance/allergies and of late some of the information would have killed several members many times over if they had listened to it and I can't allow that to continue. Not everyone (and I'm not taking about our members here) is sensible enough to know everything they read on the internet isn't accurate and should be taken with a generous pinch of sodium reduced salt thrown over your left, no the other left, shoulder!
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