Marketing and the Ethics of Big Food


US – In another edition of the MOFAD Roundtable series focused on honest dialogue about tough food issues, experts came together at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development to hash out the ethics of “big food” marketing, writes Øistein Thorsen, principal consultant, Benchmark Sustainability Science.

As usual the President of MOFAD Dave Arnold chaired a panel, featuring Michele Simon, President of Eat Drink Politics, Howard Moskowitz, Chairman of iNovum, Christina Roberto, Assistant Professor of Social & Behavioral Sciences and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, and Derek Yach, Executive Director of the Vitality Institute.

Who’s Responsible: Consumers vs. Food industry vs. Government

The debate kicked off with the panelist assigning guilt and responsibility for the current food-fueled health crisis facing the US. Ms Simon kicked it off by questioning the assumption of “an equal footing” behind questions like “Is it up the consumer to eat right or the food industry to provide the right food?”

The information available to consumers cannot be compared to the vast amount of R&D and marketing resources companies deploy to make us eat the processed, salty and sugary food they produce, she claimed.

“Publicly traded companies’ first legal responsibility is to their shareholders, not to the health of consumers,” she continued. “As a lawyer, my view is,” she said, “that companies should obey the law, and should not indulge in deceptive marketing practices.”

Howard Moskowitz came to the industry’s defense, claiming that there is a popular trend at the moment to bash food companies.

“How much of this criticism is real versus being driven by people trying to sell their books and consulting services, I don’t know,” he said.

His assertion was that food companies’ purpose is to create food that consumers want, that will sell well and create a profit, within the boundaries of the law.

[To read the full article, click on the PoultrySite link, above.]

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