There has never been a time when so much information is so readily available to us. It hit home to me as I packed for my latest business trip and realized that I was carrying no less than four different devices that could connect me to the Internet.
So with all that access to information, why are consumers so quick to fall victim to baseless mistruths, particularly when it comes to our food supply? For example, take the report where it was determined that chicken nuggets contained less than 50 percent actual chicken meat — based on a whopping sample size of two random nuggets. (Check out National Provisioner editor Andy Hanacek’s takedown of this study on our video page, http://bcove.me/yf87trat.)
More recently, ABC News’ website ran a photo of a flash frozen McRib patty that a McDonald’s employee apparently took and shared online. It looked pretty much like you would expect it to look — shaped like a McRib and covered in white frost, but the photo went viral anyway. ABC’s report slanted toward how the product looked so unnatural compared to its more appetizing, cooked state. The reporter even sought a comment from McDonald’s questioning whether the “white hunk” was indeed a McRib. Apparently, ABC was trying to make “white hunk” the 2013 version of “pink slime.”
In both cases, the news reports implied that meat companies were trying to con consumers by providing something of lesser quality than they promised. Elsewhere in the news, you have the continued debate over antibiotics and hormones in livestock, the health and safety of workers if chicken line speeds are increased, the debate over country-of-origin labeling and the necessity of warning consumers if their beef came from unsafe, uncivilized countries like… Canada. In most cases, it’s the meat industry that comes across as the bad guy, the one who is trying to fatten its profits, shirk worker safety or put one over on the consumer.
For whatever reason, people who are against the meat industry can launch attack after attack, and it doesn’t even matter if facts and science aren’t on their side. If they speak first and speak loudest, they will attract followers. It would be refreshing to see the industry actually get ahead of an issue, champion it and rally consumers to its side before critics have a chance to fire back.
If there is a bright side, it’s this: In the comments under the news article about the frozen McRib, there were a few people complaining about the product. However, there were many more who realized that the picture was harmless and took ABC to task for trying to stir up a fake controversy. Hopefully, the public won’t let themselves be misled again.
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