Food industry feels the pressure from online campaigns

Monday, 12 May, 2014

Consumers are increasingly voicing their gripes about the food industry through online campaigns - and some companies are being swayed by this new type of consumer influence, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Earlier this year, an online campaign against a common bread ingredient that’s also used in plastics saw Subway cave to public pressure and removing the substance from its dough recipe.

Senior Editor Melody M Bomgardner notes that consumers’ concerns about what’s in their food have sparked a number of internet campaigns against such ingredients as ‘pink slime’, synthetic dyes in children’s food and brominated vegetable oil in sports drinks. While some companies have reformulated in the face of so much public criticism, others have refused to change.

Despite the huge public response, questions remain as to whether these campaigners have solid science to back up their claims, Bomgardner says. Critics of some of these bloggers say the campaigns lack scientific evidence and the only thing they promote is paranoia. However, Bomgardner says growing public awareness about questionable food ingredients has delivered a powerful message to the food industry that consumers don’t trust large corporations to prioritise their health over profits.

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