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Media fuels consumer messages
Tuesday,27 March,2012 21:29:24
Safeway and Supervalu dropped ground beef with “pink slime” filler ingredient this week after public pressure quickly mounted. Pink slime is the term for a filler ingredient used in some low cost ground beef. The filler is OK per the USDA, but public pressure led these huge U.S. supermarket chains to stop selling ground beef with the filler ingredient. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger king stopped using pink slime filler in their burgers last year after a similar public backlash. It didn’t hurt that the filler was tagged with the name, pink slime.
There are important learning points from this news for seafood professionals.
The movement towards natural, organic, and chemical free food continues to get stronger. I see no let up in this trend. Some processed foods will remain in U.S. diets for a long time to come, but more and more processed foods will come under media and public scrutiny. Thankfully, most seafood is chemical free. We need to keep our natural seafood natural, and evaluate if we need chemical processing in the products that do have it.
The customer is king. It doesn’t matter how safe or wholesome a product or ingredient is, if public opinion lines up against it, it is dead.
The power of the media and the Internet is massive. Jamie Oliver got the fast food restaurants to drop pink slime added to burgers. ABC’s Dianne Sawyer was the driving force behind the latest media push and public outcry. Mainstream media sources have learned to effectively use social media to amplify their message.
Keep your finger on the pulse, and be nimble. Watch out for such stories from traditional media and social media. The big difference between now and when Chevy stopped making the Corvair due to safety concerns, is that public outcry can become deafening in just a couple of days, when it used to take months or years.