… The Center for Consumer Freedom, an advocacy group Berman runs, has been upping its attacks on the science behind plant-based proteins in the past few months…
Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods face a new ‘fake meat’ foe with long, controversial history
· Rick Berman has been involved in some of the most controversial corporate PR campaigns in history, including work for the tobacco industry.
· The Center for Consumer Freedom, an advocacy group Berman runs, has been upping its attacks on the science behind plant-based proteins in the past few months. Its latest: a Super Bowl commercial alleging plant-based meats contain methylcellulose, a chemical laxative.
· Impossible Foods immediately shot back with a mock ad featuring its CEO Pat Brown, claiming there’s “poop in the ground beef we make from cows.”
Sully Barrett, CNBC
Feb 6 2020
A Super Bowl ad you probably missed — it only aired in the Washington, D.C., market — shows that the war between powerful food-industry interests and alternative protein companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods is being taken to a new level.
The Center for Consumer Freedom ran a Super Bowl commercial alleging that plant-based meat alternatives are not as healthy as consumers think. The group describes itself as a nonprofit “devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices” and is funded by food industry players “from farm to fork.”
But there’s more to it. The Center for Consumer Freedom’s CEO, Richard Berman, is a well-known lobbyist who was once profiled by “60 Minutes” for his role antagonizing activist groups on behalf of industries like Big Tobacco. He also runs his own public relations firm, Berman and Co. — one of its listed services being “creative advertising.”
The organization run by Berman, across multiple platforms, has lashed out at “synthetic meat” in recent months, stating that their claims of being healthier than animal products are unfounded. In November the Center for Consumer Freedom took out a full-page ad in The New York Post criticizing plant-based meat; in December it advertised in the Chicago Tribune.
The Super Bowl ad was the first television spot from Berman’s operation targeting alternative protein companies.
In the commercial, a spelling bee contestant is asked to spell the word “methylcellulose,” which the judge defines as “a chemical laxative that is also used in synthetic meat.”
Methylcellulose, a tasteless powder widely used as a food additive and as a thickener in cosmetic products, is listed on the ingredient labels of plant-based meat products made by both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. A 2018 post by Mayo Clinic said there is no evidence that using fiber supplements like methylcellulose is harmful.
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